This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
by Chris Lehmann
The badges are made. The presenter bags are packed up. Ryan and Tsion have sent the email with all the student jobs, and the parents met tonight to go over all the different roles they play. Tomorrow, all the Advisories will straighten up the rooms one more time, and then this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, about 600 educators will come to our little corner of the world for the sixth iteration of EduCon. It never fails to amaze me that we pull it off every year.
And today at our faculty meeting, we took a few minutes after going over all the last details to step back and think about what this conference means to us as a community. EduCon is not just about SLA, not by a long shot. The community of educators who come together every year to discuss the intersection of progressive education and modern tools is made up of incredible teachers who amaze me with their insights and ideas. And EduCon is as much about every attendee and facilitator as it is about SLA. But for those of us who make SLA our educational home, EduCon is truly a twin moment of both humility and pride.
We are — I am — amazed at how our little corner of the educational world has been able to serve as host for a conversation about the ideas we most hold dear. Our students get to understand the power of their own ideas and hard work and voice as they see themselves as vital participants in an international conversation about how we can make schools better for students and adults. For our parents, it is an opportunity to see their children in a powerful light, and it is an opportunity to give back to the school that educates their children. For our teachers, it is a moment to step outside the day-to-day, where we struggle and sweat and work toward the impossibly unachievable ideal of our best ideas, and realize that other educators can see that we get closer to that ideal than we often give ourselves credit for.
And, of course, it is for us an incredible learning weekend where we can tease out ideas with like-minded educators and push our own thinking. EduCon is, for me, the most profound three days of learning every year because it is the time where so many of the people I learn from virtually all year long to show up to our school with an open heart and an open mind, ready to teach and learn.
So for those folks en route — welcome and thank you for coming to Philly. Our apologies in advance about the weather. For folks who can’t make the trip, feel free to join in virtually – we’re streaming the entire conference again this year. This conference is about the conversations — and that means it is about everyone who shows up and co-creates its meaning.
Welcome to SLA. Welcome to EduCon 2.5.
Chris Lehmann is the founding principal of Science Leadership Academy and co-chair of EduCon.
A version of this article appeared at Chris Lehmann’s blog Practical Theory