Learn… Grow… Inspire!


By Jessica Nissen Bauer @jnissen913

Raise your hand if you have ever said or have ever heard someone say: “It must be so nice to be a teacher because you get your summers off.”

As a teacher, I am here to change your paradigm. We educators are passionate about our profession, shutting down that side of us is near impossible. We crave expanding our knowledge and improving our craft.

I wish you would have been able to feel and see the energy and the excitement on June 29th, when nearly 100 teachers took out time in their summer to participate in EdCampJCPS: an all-day teacher facilitated, professional development that was planned and led by TEACHERS. Throughout the day, 122 users interacted on Twitter about #EdCampJCPS to provide a window into our experience. We were able to reach 278,606 people and made 1,023,098 impressions!

Now, let me provide you a window into the EdCampJCPS experience…

IMAGINE a group of teachers in a room, fluidly and organically discussing educational topics of passion. Through these discussions, they are able to have open dialogues, sharing their ideas and learning from one another. The professional development provides the room; the room provides the space for ideas to be exchanged and connections made. The ideas provide an opportunity for a positive change in our educational system. Ideas start small and evolve into something extraordinary. These ideas will impact student instruction across JCPS.

On June 29th, educators entered Waggener High School. Some came to participate, some came to participate and facilitate, some came thinking they would just participate and were motivated to facilitate (I was in that category). Those choosing to facilitate provided the name of their topic to a member of the EdCampJCPS team (@EdCampJCPS) who would add the topic on the ever changing schedule that campers had access to online. You heard me correctly. The topics were not predefined.  They were determined THAT morning by teachers.

After hearing from Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens, EdCampJCPS kicked off with motivating Edspire speeches from fellow teachers Faith Stroud (@principalstroud), Stan Torzewski (@TORZEWSKI81), Joshua DeWar (@Jjd502), Angela Yeasayer (@teachem2fish), and Jennifer Cox (@JenniferHCox). These speeches motivated us to “ACT not REACT,” to understand that growth mindset and gift mindset ensure student success, to “have the belief that all kids have a GIFT,” to ignite students passion and the importance of giving them a voice, to start each day with intention, and that we have the BEST job in the world!

I was fortunate to attend 5 sessions during the day and even facilitated a session of my own. During my colleagues’ sessions, they shared about some effective strategies, technologies and programs used in their classrooms to ignite student participation and improve student learning. During their facilitations, we were welcomed and encouraged to take part in the discussion. What a change in paradigm for me. I have attended and listened to many professional developments that set aside 10 minutes of questions, but never have I ever been able to PARTICIPATE in a professional development… to be PART of the conversation… to SHARE in the experience.

When it was my turn to facilitate, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my passion during my session and making connections with fellow colleagues. It was through that session that I was able to make new friends across the district, learn what they are doing in their classrooms and schools, and gather contacts to meet outside of EdCampJCPS to further discuss these passions. It was through my facilitation that I saw the leader in me emerging. It was through my facilitation that I understood that leaders do not just teach – they learn… they grow… they inspire.

The ability to both participate and facilitate in pedagogical conversations with fellow colleagues about improving the education of our students was an empowering experience. This experience ignited and rejuvenated the fire I have for teaching. It was fulfilling to be around so many passionate teachers like myself – educators who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, just like me. But let’s be honest, Steve Jobs had it right when he said: “Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Now go. Change the paradigms of others. Let them know that teachers do NOT choose to take their summers off.  They choose to spend their summers growing as educators to improve the education for ALL students.  They spend their summers trying to CHANGE THE WORLD.

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