Archive for September, 2013

PD for NJ: Edscape & EdcampNJ

We’re finally back into the swing of things at my school, which means our attention is turning from ironing out first week kinks to maintaining a smooth and steady course.  It’s business as usual (which is never usual, as you likely know), and one of the things we need to keep track of every year is our professional development opportunities.  If you’re in the NY/NJ/PA area, I’ve got two upcoming events that I hope will be of more value to you than your typical “sit & git” PD conferences.


Edscape is the brainchild of Eric Sheninger, principal of New Milford (NJ) High School and one of my co-conspirators collaborators on Edcamp Leadership.  From Edscape’s “About” page:

Edscape is a conference intended to bring together passionate educators who firmly believe that innovation is essential to increasing student engagement and achievement. Innovation begins with a desire to change. Edscape will provide attendees with the inspiration, strategies, and the confidence to actively pursue a transformation in teaching and learning practices.

The theme of this year’s conference is “Innovation Now”. We will explore how learning environments can be established to promote critical thought, inquiry, problem solving, and creativity. Attendees will leave with a greater sense of how to authentically engage all learners through meaningful and relevant instruction.

The list of presenters reads like a “Who’s Who” of forward-thinking educators on social media; a keynote from George Couros and workshops from Steven Anderson and Shelly Terrell are worth the price of admission alone.  Edscape is held at New Milford High School in New Milford, NJ, on October 19, 2013, and tickets are $35; see the website for further details and registration info.


EdcampNJ is looking to build on its success from last year as one of the best attended Edcamps to date (not the best, as I erroneously Tweeted at the time).  EdcampNJ, like all Edcamps, utilizes the “unconference” model to empower attendees to have the professional learning experience they want – the session schedule is constructed by participants the morning of the event, and – as always – the Rule of Two Feet applies: if you’re sitting in a session that isn’t meeting your needs, it is OK to get up and find another one that does – in fact, it’s expected.  EdcampNJ is held at Linwood Middle School in North Brunswick, NJ on November 23, 2013.  Admission is free, but you must register in advance due to space limitations; see the website for further details and registration info.

Check Your Email

Whether you started two weeks ago or are starting soon, welcome back to school!  I hope your summer was refreshing and rejuvenating.

I’m in the midst of preparing for a return to work and grad school myself, so in lieu of a longer post I thought I’d echo an old post from one of my favorite bloggers, NJ’s own Jersey Jazzman.  As we head back to work, please, PLEASE remember:  as a public employee, your email is public record.

While the specific laws (and case law) vary state to state, New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act grants access to your email, among other documents, “for inspection, copying, or examination by the citizens of this State, with certain exceptions, for the protection of the public interest…”.  In other words, if someone wants to see your email record, they’re going to see it.

This doesn’t mean you should be paranoid about using work email, or refuse to use it.  It serves a purpose, and it’s a great tool for communicating with colleagues and parents.  In fact, one of the reasons I think it’s so valuable is because it maintains an accurate log of exactly what was said between parties, in case that ever comes into dispute (the same can’t be said about phone or face-to-face conversations).  Do what you need to do with it in order to do your job efficiently and effectively.  Just keep it professional and be smart about how you use it, and remember that you should have absolutely no expectation of privacy when you use employer-owned technology.

Happy New Year!