Three years ago, at just about this time of year, a small crew of us sat on a train headed home from a mind-blowing annual education conference in Philadelphia. The conference, EduCon, is hosted by Science Leadership Academy, a progressive and cutting-edge school led by the brilliant educator/pioneer Chris Lehmann. In an organic moment, the teachers from Hudson High School of Learning Technologies traveling on that Amtrak bounding through the wooded areas of southern New Jersey had an epiphany. We needed a similar conference in New York City, one that afforded a platform for the brilliance that abounds in our city and our nation. A platform for educators to share successes, struggles, growths and best practices.
GROWING OUR PRACTICE
We have long recognized that truly “excellent teaching” is a continuous pursuit, as the best teachers are steadfast in a constant honing of their craft, challenging even the most traditional, time-tested and mundane practices in education for more effective options. If we recognize that most teachers are doing this all the time, and that the best classrooms are experimental and evolving, then there is no better experts to learn from than other teachers.
A CONFERENCE IS BORN
Thus, our conference was born. EDxEDNYC, a conference “for educators by educators” (Ed by Ed), was founded largely on the principle that when given time, energy and resources, teachers can do amazing things. Now heading into our fourth annual conference in June 2018, we have evidence to support this claim. Every year, the conference grows and teachers from around New York City, the United States and Canada exchange ideas, concepts, and dreams at our conference. This has a butterfly effect well beyond what we could have ever fantasized in January 2015. We receive messages from hundreds of people throughout the year about our conference, touting the inspiration they received from their fellow educators — proving that what we do as teachers really does matter — and is truly worth sharing.
An authentic desire for each of our students to receive the best education possible — this is why we teach. This is what’s inside of us every day that pulls us out of bed and brings us into our school buildings, even when we’re exhausted. We all have struggles and triumphs, and those kids who make us really earn our paychecks. We have students who don’t have regular meals outside of our schools or who travel over an hour to get to us every day. Our kids deserve our best each and every time we engage in a lesson. They deserve better than wheeling out the same old lessons from the vault every year. Teaching means constantly trying to create the best learning experiences for the students in front of us, and EDxEDNYC gives teachers a platform to share and amplify our work.
HOLD ON TO THE MAGIC
What we do every day is bigger than us. We play many roles in the lives of our students, and we must do so to the best of our ability with consistency and vigilance. It’s easy to lose focus in the fog of standardized testing, pressures from administration, and the mounting responsibilities we face each day. EDxEDNYC aims to help teachers regain our passion for why we chose this career. Conference attendees walk away refreshed, reignited and brimming with ideas. This blog, debuting today, is an extension of this vision. It's a way to share the teacher magic all year long and we encourage educators to pitch their story ideas and write for us.
Teaching is our job, but it is so much more. As a famous educator once said, this work is too important to be ordinary. Let’s get together this June 8th and do extraordinary things!
Phil is in his 8th year as a teacher, and began at Hudson High School of Learning Technologies in 2013. He runs the Hudson Guild, a theater program at Hudson HSLT. He is a co-founder of EDxEDNYC and is an advocate for providing students with compassionate education. Phil is the husband of a beautiful wife and has an indisputably handsome dog. He can be found on Twitter @thehistorydude.