Monday, 11 August 2014

Edchatnz Conference- the future looks bright

I have just returned from the most remarkable conference. Remarkable because it was the dream of an inspiring young teacher named Danielle Myburgh. Danielle started a twitter chat using the hashtag #edchatnz two years ago and it has blossomed into something big and powerful and amazing. Just four short months ago she had the idea to hold an #edchatnz conference. A small team jumped on board to support her and voila, Danielle created an amazingly inspiring conference and it sold out to boot!

I have so much to say about this conference that it's hard to collate these thoughts into a coherent blogpost. Here are three things that struck me.

Bridget, Ginnie and Aimie from Christchurch are excited to meet the amazing Mrs Hyde from Rotorua!

1. The future looks bright!
Some of the most inspiring people I met were very young teachers, first and second years. They were confident and curious and constantly working to better their practice for their learners. It is a long time since I was a beginning teacher (ahem) but I know for sure I wasn't inspiring others with my zest and passion. In fact, I ended up in hospital with glanjular fever and felt very alone, contemplating giving up teaching. I was so unconnected as a young teacher in Western Sydney where I started my teaching- I rarely even made it to morning tea to connect with other teachers in my large and very low decile school. Has the advent of social media helped new educators to feel more supported? I sure hope so! @chasingalyx, @ariaporo22 and guys inspire me. You are headed for amazing things and your learners are lucky! I'm in awe.

2. Being connected is essential if we are to be effective educators.
Christchurch Represent! 
I am incredibly lucky that I am not a lone nut at my school. I am surrounded by great educators and there is something I want to learn from every single one of them- I want to learn more about Philosophy for Children from Pauline, I want to learn how Liz uses the Design Thinking process so effectively with any age group, I want to learn how Greg uses the Performing Arts so stunningly to teach ANY concept at all from Maths to inquiry and I want to know how Steph is such an incredible whizz at facilitating deep and powerful maths talk amongst her Year 7s. My colleagues inspire me everyday so my story is a little different from those who struggle as "lone wolves" in their schools on a daily basis.
Having said that, joining Twitter was quite simply the most powerful thing I have ever done for my professional learning. And the #edchatnz conference shows why. It gave me access to incredible community of educators across New Zealand who inspire and support each other everyday. Despite the fact that I had never met many of them face to face before Friday, I feel like I have known them forever. My great friend Ginnie put it best when she said,

If you have somehow stumbled across this blogpost and you are not yet on Twitter, start lurking, dipping your toes in and the best place to start? Why #edchatnz of course!

3. The Learners must be at the centre of the learning
And my main takeaway from all the amazing learning I did this weekend is that we must ensure our learners are at the centre of their learning. To be successful in life, our learners need to be directing their own learning while we support and mentor them. We are doing far too much for our students. We need to be explicitly teaching them the skills they need and then getting out of their way! Yes, it is messy and at times it might be uncomfortable for us but giving students control over their learning is engaging and empowering. Hobsonville Point Primary School are doing an amazing job of this. I was incredibly inspired by how articulate and engaged their learners are and how effective they are at directing their own learning. What incredibly lucky kids!
Hobsonville Point Primary School- Learning Commons 1.
Stunningly, beautiful design has a real impact on how the children learn. 

I have so much I'd like to add about specific workshops, keynotes and even a somewhat startling political debate but I'll save that for another day. In the meantime, I'll leave you with this cartoon from Amy McCauley's workshop on personalised learning.


  1. Bridge, you inspire your colleagues everyday. You encourage us to step out of our comfort zone and to incorporate new and interesting teaching tools in the classroom. We are so lucky to have you at our school.

  2. Great words Bridget! It really was a great 2 days and as an 'old dog' who has been around teaching for a very long time it was great to see those young ones passionate and keen!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Cathy! I agree! I was blown away. There were some young teachers there that will be a force to be reckoned with.

  3. Naaw thanks Bridget :) Absolutely enjoyed meeting you face to face. You always have some awesome advice, ideas and support. Thank you :)