Hacking #SXSWedu

An effort led by educators.


I can’t seem to begin writing about SXSWedu 2014 without referencing the prior year. Part of me wants to put y’all through a compare/contrast and take you through my mixed bag of emotions thereafter. I’ll spare you though because as disenchanted as I was as I left SXSWedu 2013, I was fortunate enough to connect with a super feisty and passionate educator who felt compelled to make this next year a better one. So, we hacked (or tried our best to hack) SXSWedu and now I am sharing how we did it in hopes of getting more educators to join the effort:

Said educator, just happens to Lindsey Own, teacher extraordinaire from Seattle. It was during conversations at lunch directly after the 2013 keynote that we realized that we had to DO something if we want to change the scene. Complaining just wouldn’t be enough (although we certainly do that too). The drive to make changes and improve outcomes for kids is what got our small group moving, and is what will keep us moving even if broad progress is slow. Her bright idea was simple, we’d start a Google spreadsheet and gather support via Twitter to crowd source session ideas from and with teachers at the helm. Check it out for yourselves. Sometimes I go back to it just because…

Several Google Hangouts and lengthy email threads later and we were ready to submit sessions this past summer. To our (or at least my) surprise, a few months passed and we found out that many made! So many in fact that we had to recruit again (via Twitter & f2f) even more teachers to help fill the sessions with presenters. Virtual introductions ensued, and teachers from all over North America worked together to see these sessions come to fruition. And that’s not all…most of those presenters were kind enough to offer their complimentary day passes so that local teachers could attend. This was particularly rewarding for me as I got to reach out to classroom teachers, instructional coaches, and even a principal from area schools that weren’t in positions to send staff on their own. Thanks to all who offered their passes by the way…this is what I saw one of these teachers post later on Facebook:

I totally acknowledge that there is still a ways to go. For next year, I’m committed to continuing the focus on supporting diversity of voices as well pushing panels to conversations and making sure that workshops are set in spaces conducive to collaboration. I urge all educators who feel just as disheartened as I felt last year to do something with this feeling. Take it as a call to action, and help to make a difference for subsequent years. And should you need any help, please reach out..or join our Google spreadsheet for 2015! We do better together.

PS Consider yourselves ALL invited to the spreadsheet. Per Lindsey’s most recent post, perhaps this could serve as a next step in intiating respectful relationships so as to start crossing professional borders and begin the journey to co-presenting.