News & Media

In the Spotlight: Educator excited about sharing with others at ‘unconference’

05/08/2016 Lancaster Online By Kara Newhouse

Ken Zimmerman has plenty of practice teaching teachers.

An employee of Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13, Zimmerman regularly provides trainings to local educators on technology tools and strategies to use in classrooms. But last month, he had the opportunity to teach in a new, less formal setting: an “unconference.”

Zimmerman was among the volunteers who organized EdCamp Lancaster, which drew about 80 attendees. The event used a participatory format that has gained popularity in recent years.

When participants arrived, they wrote ideas for sessions they wanted to attend on sticky notes. Organizers grouped the ideas together to create a schedule.

“When you go to conferences, you sit and listen to somebody speak,” Zimmerman said. “The idea (of an EdCamp) is to move away from a script and get educators together to talk about meaningful topics to help them build a collaboration and a support network.”

Popular topics at EdCamp Lancaster included hybrid classroom strategies and connecting students on social media. Participants wanted extra time in many sessions, Zimmerman said. He and other organizers plan to host EdCamp Lancaster again in 2017.

Age: 42.

Hometown: East Earl Township.

Family: My beautifully-talented wife is Lisa Zimmerman, who teaches classroom music at Blue Ball Elementary School. My 10-year-old son is Kaleb, and my 8-year-old daughter is Lindsey.

Job title: Instructional media and technology consultant.

Something I learned at EdCamp Lancaster: “The smartest person in the room IS the room” is a statement that has been reinforced in this experience.

Something I taught at EdCamp Lancaster: I shared how I use Twitter on a daily basis to reach out to others in job-alike groups for encouragement, support, ideas and news so I can continually grow professionally.

Biggest challenge in my work: One of my biggest challenges is trying to foresee what is coming next. Technology continues to change rapidly, and how we use it to maximize student learning and teaching changes just as fast.

Biggest reward: I get the daily opportunity to work alongside some of the most amazing educators I have ever met. Our Lancaster-Lebanon IU13 districts have such great, passionate educators whom I have the great blessing to support and learn from on a continual basis.

Favorite social media platform and why: Twitter. It’s a way to manage all my professional and personal learning communities all under the same roof. Twitter is fast and easy with everything under 140 characters, which makes for a more precise and direct conversation.

Hobbies: I love to travel to anywhere there is a beach and ocean. When we are not traveling, I am a bit of an action-movie enthusiast.

Pet peeve: When my children come home and don’t hang up their book bags and coats and don’t put away their shoes and clothes. Why is that so hard?

Best advice I’ve ever received: One of my most dearest mentors, Paul Mumma — a former German/Spanish teacher from Manheim Central High School — told me (in my first year teaching there) that I needed to do something to change every single year. He reminded me of the importance of not becoming stagnant, but to accept that change is a part of life and to run with it.

A movie I’d recommend: Anything that involves spending some time with family and friends. There is nothing more special than enjoying a grande nonfat caramel macchiato with light drizzle after a movie with friends and family.

An item that’s always in my fridge: Heinz ketchup, because my wife will have no other.

Three words that best describe me: Christ follower, husband, father. In that order.

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