Yup, it’s been about a month since the last blog post! My writing has suffered this summer, but that’s ok.  Sometimes, we just need to renew and recharge, something I feel as though I’ve had the chance to do.

Yesterday, Edmodo put on their annual #Edmodocon, a conference to celebrate teachers and various ways that they’ve taken Edmodo’s services and put them to use.  This is the first time that I’ve had the chance to hang out and take part in this event, and all I can say is wow.  I look at my pathetic attempts to use Edmodo and compared to the presentors and think “it’s time to step this up!”

While I wasn’t around for the entire day, I was at enough of the sessions to have a few takeaways from this event:

     1) It’s all about the relationships!

Time and time again we hear this, see this, and it was shown here during these presentations.  There was raw emotion, laughter, and sharing of stories that just gave you chills.  The service is great, but it comes down to creating a classroom environment where students feel comfortable to to fail AND to succeed!  I have a daughter who’s uncomfortable being successful because it brings attention to her.  In middle school, I know she hid in reading books (she loves to read anyway) because this was a safe place for her and it didn’t draw attention to the fact she was intelligent.  She’s just now starting to get over some of that fear, but we don’t think about those students.  We always focus so much on the students who are afraid to fail, that we forget about the quiet ones who are terrified they might be asked to talk.  Edmodo, as with much of our tech right now, gives those students a voice, a place where they can be successful without raising their hand.  Build the relationships and regardless of the platform, students will thrive!

2) “It’s What’s Best For Kids!”

I’ll admit, the dislike I have for this phrase grows each and every year.  We do so many things under the guise of “It’s What’s Best For Kids” when in fact it is not, it makes my stomach turn.  However, watching the teachers present their classroom/professional work and how they interwove Edmodo into it, this was what’s best for kids!  A classroom teacher who went from “my quiet hour” to opening her classroom before and after school to allow students the chance to use the tech, that’s what’s best for kids.  Teachers who built learning networks totally through the Edmodo platform, able to create PLC groups based around common goals, that is certainly what is best for kids!  Teachers sharing their passions with other teachers, inspiring us all to do better, that’s definitely what’s best for kids.  And all of us who were watching, tweeting, and back channeling on a Wednesday during the summer, using our vacation time to better ourselves, if that isn’t what’s best for kids, I don’t know what is?!  Again, I’m not a fan of the phrase, but what I saw was educators world wide coming together for what was best for kids.

3) Use whatever you need to reach your students!

All of the educators who presented, you’d love to have them teaching your own children.  They are passionate, drive, and love the craft of teaching.  They all chose Edmodo for their various reasons to be their “highway” in their classrooms/subject areas.  This is one tech tool that we have to be able to reach our students.  Edmodo is awesome with its layout, its security measures, and how they are very responsive via email/social media to questions or concerns on their end.  However, there are many different tools that are out there we could be using.  Edmodo, while certainly a favorite of mine, is not the only one you could use.  Try things out, log in, play around, see how it could be used in your classroom, your school, and how it might make an impact with your students.  We are all strapped for time, but find the tools that work for you and your students.  You won’t be sorry with the outcome!

#Edmodocon was a wonderful experience both professionally and personally.  It’s another way to affirm the beliefs that I have about my classroom and how it’s run.  No, I’m not perfect (as my wife would whole-heartly agree!), but my students know this is a safe place to be a sixth grader, and that matters a lot to me!  To see the passion displayed during these presentations, it has certainly pushed me to find new ways to create a great learning environment in my classroom!  It’s also pushed me to find new uses for Edmodo as well!