15 minutes | Mar 24, 2017

Tch Talks 11: Women Leaders in Education: Kristen Swanson

Sitting down to talk with Kristin felt like talking with a friend. Kristen Swanson, the founder of EdCamp and current Director of Learning at Slack, brings to the table an accomplished career in education and leadership, but during our interview, I was most in awe of her humility and down to earth nature. It was incredibly clear that, in her life, she listens, connects, and elevates the ideas of others. These qualities are all components that likely enabled her to create the EdCamp platform. For readers not familiar, EdCamp is an “unconference” where participants drive the content, structure, and flow of their professional development on the day of the event. EdCamp provides ownership of ideas, participant voice, internal motivation, and relevance to teachers seeking to redefine their professional learning experiences. Listening to Kristen, her words felt honest and real. As I questioned, listened, and engaged in this interview, the following points spoke to me: Kristen speaks to the energy created by teachers feeding off one another and how this energy can provide the inspiration for new ideas and a renewed focus. She references the need for bringing together diverse viewpoints. Mirroring the core values of EdCamp, Kristen discusses being selfless as a leader; that is, to give up ownership of something you care deeply about and offer control over it to someone else. The value in organic, rather than staged or prepared, collaboration. Recognizing that many of the problems we talk about are “grown-up problems,” and the need to recognize and evaluate if what we're debating is potentially hurting our students. The need to end the tendency of teachers to underestimate their power and impact on others. Listen to the entire interview below: As I reflected on our conversation, I thought about Kristen’s selfless leadership model. The EdCamp platform gives voice and space to the creation or iteration of ideas, thus furthering education in many capacities. As teachers come together with common challenges and reframe them as opportunities in the EdCamp space, there are positive outcomes for both teachers and students. Though Kristen’s words have such value, it's what Kristen does not say that is truly powerful for educators. She has risen as a leader by elevating the voice and leadership qualities within others. A big thank you to Kristen Swanson taking the time to talk with me and for being a role model to educators around the world as a Woman Leader in Education. Crystal Morey is a K-6 instructional coach in Kent, Washington. Crystal spent the past seven years teaching middle level mathematics. She’s a strong advocate of inquiry-based mathematics instruction, as well as increasing student voice in the classroom. Crystal has partnered with a variety of organizations on projects, including Illustrative Mathematics, Washington STEM, and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction in Washington State. When not teaching, Crystal is a mom to two energetic children. She utilizes her many life experiences to speak about the challenges and opportunities many educators face. Connect with Crystal on Twitter: @TheMathDancer. Save
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