I had a chance to attend BLC08 compliments of my school this year. I was very excited and even blogged about it some time back. So why did I not go? There is a story there, and I will attempt to share it. I feel I owe it to my network that celebrated with me when I thought I was going.
BLC07 Remembered and Shared At the beginning of school, I shared with my principal about BLC—I had virtually benefited from BLC07 through the breadcrumbs of backchannels from the likes of David Jakes, Ewan McIntosh, Barbara Barreda, and others willing to open up their skype chats for any who wanted to respond to backchannel discussions. These people were physically in the audience and invited anyone from their network to join in. Those out in the network did not have the luxury of U-Stream then, nor were we privy to listening in using Skype (I still wonder why no one thought to do that?) But still it was a phenomenon I will not soon forget. I think this alone is what made me realize my professional learning centered around conversations more so than speakers, classes, or presentations.
Interest grows at the district level So my principal shared with a district administrator who works with the school library folks. He asked me about it, and I excitedly told him all I knew. I also shared that I had wanted to go every year since its inception, about which SC districts I knew had been, and that due to the cost, and what I saw as a suggested requirement→that schools and organizations should come as a group→I had never seriously pursued it. (I have always floated my own boat at national conferences-paid for them right out of my own pocket.)
District Decides to GO! The next thing I know, this district leader has gone back and shared about BLC to others at the district level, and a group was formulated to go. I found out later, and was VERY excited. There were six going from my district (already registered and scheduled for flights/lodging.) I told my principal, who told me to go ahead and plan to go with them—she would pay for me and another teacher to attend with that group. I tried to get a teacher to go, but many were reluctant to use summer-time to do this (which is shocking all by itself-that few would consider using their summer for PD–is that just a Cathy phenomenon?).
Too High a Cost As time lapsed, I also began to think how dare me use school money for such an expensive extravagant trip. I kept rationalizing that registration for two teachers alone would be right around $1300, and that is not including airfare, food, and lodging. I kept saying jeepers how much more we could do with more teachers if I would just NOT do this. I have a pet peeve about anyone who fleeces the school of much needed money (like color copies of family photos, or baby-shower thank-you cards made AT SCHOOL in color on school cardstock and FILLED with baby-shower photos, oh gee I could go on an on here.)
My BLC Dream Ended So I let it go. The district is doing what I thought needed to be done→they are sending a group from the district. It is representative of district leaders, building principals, and I do believe a teacher, so I am satisfied in that. My hope of the group going is that they will catch the vision of 21st century learning and then bring this vision back to the district. I already have the vision (I think) so why should I go? I should allow others who haven’t gotten that vision yet to go. I should have my principal spend our professional development money, limited as it is, to get more teachers in pd that will help them grow.
Missing Friends, Virtual & F2F So there you have it—that is why I am not going to BLC this year. I will, however, very much MISS a reunion of virtual friends, including Joyce Valenza, Liz Davis, Lisa Thumann, Alice Barr, Colleen King, and many others I have met virtually in professional social networking tools and f2f from Educon 2.0 in Philly. I DO plan to go again to Educon 2.0, and once again, ask that my school help by splitting the costs with me. Last year I asked to go with this agreement in mind, and said if I could do it for under $500, I would. That is my plan once again—hope the gas prices and airfare will allow it.
Breadcrumbs will have to suffice… Please know that as I sit and reach out for breadcrumbs of information coming out of BLC, I am solidly kicking myself for NOT going ahead and attending, all expenses paid by my school. There are breadcrumbs available though, in the format of blog posts, wiki edits, twitters, and U-Streams. It’s the next best thing to being there.