Thursday, April 6, 2017

Critical Conversations at #EdcampRevolt

This post was originally published by Justin Schleider at #SlowChatPE on April 2. #TheEduCal Blog is proud to share it here with permission.

Today was an amazing day. I am feeling a sense of hope and joy that I haven’t felt for a very long time. My goal is to help change the world and I honestly think I may have just been positioned to be a part of a change that will have a huge impact. I will go more into depth with that at the end of this blog. First, let’s talk about how EdCampRevolution rocked my world!

I have been looking forward to this EdCamp for months. The reason why is that their mission aligns with mine. It is one that more conferences need to address.

We at EdCamp Revolution are holding this space for critical educators and progressive educators to come together, share ideas, and feel empowered to affect change in their place of work and communities. How do we discuss STEM, maker-spaces, the arts, health and physical education, within the context of race, class, gender, equity, justice, and liberation?

Here is a group of educators that is challenging the status quo in a way that I can fall in line with. After going to the conference I fell in love with them.

The first session titled, Critical Pedagogy, was facilitated by Awo Okaikor Aryee-Price (@Okaikor). For those who do not know her Okaikor is a doctoral student who is very knowledgeable about critical pedagogy as well as other social justice principles. One definition of critical pedagogy I found states, “Critical pedagogy is a teaching method that aims to help in challenging and actively struggling against any form of social oppression and the related customs and beliefs” (Link).

She did one of the best jobs in facilitating a conversation. It was interesting because she was one of the quieter people in the room when it was obvious that she had a wealth of information. That is is the true spirit of EdCamps. The room discussed the subject and Okaikor jumped in once in awhile with her substantial wealth of information. If you want to see the notes on the session click here. The major takeaway from the session is that I have to read Paulo Freire and learn more about how my students, as well as myself, can question and challenge my system and my class. The action is the key to critical pedagogy.

The second session I went to was facilitated Diana Potts, Stephanie Rivera, and Elissa Malespina. The subject was how to bring up race in your classroom. The session was awesome!! There was fire and a little edge in the room. This made the discussion come alive! My man TJ was dropping knowledge bombs on my right while Julie-Ann, the founder of EdCampBrooklyn, and I were whispering in agreement to each other on the left. There was a student in the session who gave a wonderful synopsis of why it’s important for teachers to step up their views on race and how pictures are sometimes more powerful than words.

My major takeaway from the session is that I need to continue to learn more about history. Black history, Mexican history, African history, US history so that I can fully understand how the world has gotten to this point. Without that knowledge, I am blinded to certain truths.

Now to the groans and glows of the conference! (thank Jorge for allowing me to steal the idea)

Glow: The session board was filled with great subjects! This was not a conference for those scared to discuss the hard topics.

Groan: There were two people who took a lot of the time to talk about what they were doing. Today race was discussed a lot so that may be why but I noticed both people were white. I don’t know if they had anything to do with the fact that they talked for what seemed like at least ten minutes. It is not fair to monopolize so much time when the whole room should be a part of the discussion. Time just doesn’t allow for that as well as for the fact that people don’t pay attention for that long!

Glow: There were more black and brown people there than any other education conference I have ever been to. That was an awesome site to see!

Glow: There was a boat load of food!

Glow: Lunch was short and to the point.

Groan: My kids were sick so I got there late and had to leave early.

Going back to the beginning of the blog I stated how happy I was that a major change may be occurring in NJ, NY, and CT! I had a conversation where I was asked why EdCampNJ wasn’t doing enough to support other EdCamps. It made me realize that we were in a unique position and time to unite all the local EdCamps in NJ, NY, and CT which will solve a couple of issues that have been plaguing them.

The first issue is that EdCampNJ is attended by a large number of white educators. We see this and now have a viable solution. When we unite we will have the voices of teachers of color as well as white teachers.

Another issue is that the EdCamps are all planning on their own independent of one another. This has caused EdCamps to be held on the same day. That doesn’t do anyone any good. Together we can map out a calendar and figure out the best way to spread out the EdCamps.

The final way this new coalition will help is that we can amplify everyone’s EdCamp! We are not in competition with each other. We all have the same goal of bettering our profession. The joining of EdCamp voices will allow everyone to shine brighter!

Today was a day filled with great conversations and hope. That alone was worth going to EdCampRevolution!

Justin currently teaches physical education, health, and technology integration in Springfield Elementary School which includes grades prek - 6 and is located in NJ. He has taught there for 5 years. He previously taught for 5 years at Mercer County Special Services and Lambertville Public School. He is the brains behind #slowchatpe and which is the impetus for the slow chat (question a day) Twitter and Voxer. He is also the co-creator of,, and the Voxer physical education chat, which has 500 physical education teachers from all over the world. Justin is also the technology director for the NJ AHPERD which is the NJ state organization for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance, and Drivers Education programs.

1 comment:

  1. Justin has a good point, what do you do about the people who over-participate (and often could have said their piece much more concisely)? Of course they have good intention, but it's against the spirit of edcamp where we are all experts. According to the rules, all you can do is two-feet it out of there. But I was in the Critical Pedagogy session, and it was not one you wanted to leave. I will likely bring this up in the organizers FB group. Do you enforce norms during the session? After the session? Not at all? (so you ignore minor over-participators and let 2-feet take care of extreme over-participators)