So, after attending the EdChange Global event, I reflected on one of the sessions, and quite a bit at that. It was titled, “So, you want to run and EdCamp” (the video will be shared soon). The idea that came to me upon first heading EdCamp was summer camp, where teachers came to support learners in a range of areas that children wanted to learn about.
I missed the mark a little but, but the truth might seem a little crazier: Edcamps are where educators go, in their free time, voluntarily and attend sessions without prior knowledge of what the session is going to be. Kind of like a blind date for professional development. Well, blind dates let you see the person as you walk across the restaurant to meet them, which is about all the warning you get at an EdCamp. Sound crazy?!? Well, yeah, it is. Until you attend. Then it seems like what every PD session should be.
Imagine it’s the beginning of the school year and you have your priorities. So, you pull out the master book with all the PD opportunities and leaf through until you find one that you want. Great, your happy, box is ticked. In two months, you’ll spend an hour or so, after school, with 30 other like minded educators discussing the topic you selected, listening to an expert sharing their successes, maybe resources, maybe strategies, and maybe other things. Box ticked, back to work and you have a lot that you can apply to your teaching.
Now, an EdCamp. You have a date and a venue. It could be a school, an office, another building, or it could be online. You don’t have a box to tick to choose your session. You know where /when and maybe who if there are others going with you or a known educator is advertising it. You don’t know what. Yes, that’s right, you’re going to a PD session without knowing what the session topic is going to be.
But, when you get there, you see a board, or a series of tables, or some other system of recording ideas: you get to suggest the session topics there and then. In fact, if you suggest it, you might have a hand in encouraging participation.
Example: I like being connected with other educators. I have a professional learning network (PLN), which is fairly diverse, but I am always looking for it to grow. Why not suggest that for a session.
So, my first EdCamp (which will also have video available soon), I did just that. I had no plan, no outline, no script and I did not have all the answers but I did have questions. The thing is, the other participants were in the same boat – they had questions, answers and were willing to share. What a lovely, organic experience. It didn’t matter how ‘off-topic’ the conversation got, that was the point! The point was that there be conversation, sharing, connections! A shout out to Sarah Thomas (@sarahdateechur) the founder of #Edumatch for being part of the organising (organizing) team, thank you for this opportunity.
My first EdCamp and I am itching for more. Maybe a physical one in the UK could be coming soon. I know there are connected educators on my side of the pond, maybe they just haven’t been exposed to this free system! Here’s another participant’s take on the EdCamp.
Let’s get connected! #CEduAD