Powerful Learning Practice held its first of many  to come Web 2.0 boot camps for educational leaders in Philadelphia this past summer at the Science Leadership Academy.

Tony Baldasaro was one of the 20 attendees at this intimate but intensive three-day event for school leaders looking to understand how 21st century technologies are challenging curriculum and pedagogy and providing economical new ways for learning.

“I plugged the wrong address into my phone the first day, so I was all out of sorts – I hate being late. I was in a room with complete strangers and really unsure of my presence,” Baldasaro said. “Did I belong here? How will my skills compare with the others in the room? To say the least, I felt vulnerable and very unsure of myself.”

After feeling slightly uncomfortable and out of his element, Baldasaro fit right in when the boot camp finally kicked into gear.

“I was working hard participating in a backchannel chat for the first time, where I learned right away that my voice was welcome, and keeping notes in Evernote – I realized that I was all of the sudden in my comfort zone,” he said. “Okay, yes, Will and Sheryl were stretching my thinking and challenging me to unlearn much of what I knew, but the experience, the ability to have a voice, the collective interest and passion in learning – it was for me an incredibly liberating feeling because I was with people who believed in the things I did, but also pushed my thinking beyond where it stood.”

Baldasaro was assistant superintendent of schools for SAU 16 in Exeter, N.H. and administrator at New Hampshire’s only public virtual high school The Virtual Learning Academy Charter School, but after the boot camp experience he resigned as assistant superintendent to focus on the public virtual high school.

The PLP boot camp experience was summed up in one word for Baldasaro – transformative.

“It quite simply changed the way I look at education, my growth as a learning leader and my role, both current and potential, in education,” he said. “The opportunity to be with like-minded individuals whose thinking was more sophisticated and advanced than mine pushed me to think about my beliefs.”

Baldasaro has made a number of changes in his personal and professional life since the PLP boot camp, from diving into social networks to extend his personal learning network and joining national conversations through his blog.

“I didn’t sit in Philly looking to change my home district – I was in Philly to change me,” he said. “I needed to participate in something like the boot camp in order to transform my thinking.”

After a roaring success with the first boot camp, PLP is launching more three-day camps for educational leaders. The attendance is limited to 25 at each camp to ensure an intimate environment for learning and discussion, so sign up early to reserve your spot at what promises to be a powerful three days of learning.

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Sheryl is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Powerful Learning Practice. She works with schools and districts from around the world helping them to infuse technology into their curriculums and by leading other digital conversion efforts. Sheryl also consults with governments, educational organizations and non-profits in development of their various professional learning initiatives. Sheryl is a sought-after presenter at national and international events, speaking on topics related to digital and online learning, teacher and educational leadership, online community building, and other educational issues impacting children of poverty. Sheryl served on the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Board of Directors for six years. She co-authored The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age with Lani Ritter Hall. Sheryl has four children and four grandsons, Luke, Logan, Levi and Tanner and a trio of dachshunds. You can find out more on her blog and on Twitter @snbeach.
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