Last month I had the opportunity to attend my very first Edcamp style Professional Development. Prior to this, I had read about the Edcamp experience, but could never quite wrap my mind around the organization of it all. The idea of a group of people, educators at that, coming together with very little knowledge before hand, no schedule with sessions to choose from that could be stewed on for days prior to the event? How could this be? How would anything constructive come from this? How can you put 100+ teachers in a room with no prior planning? And that is just what happened. A group of 100+ educators came together and participated in meaningful discussions, and took away ideas that are currently being used in classrooms across the state. So, I left with this question, How? How did this group come together and accomplish what we accomplished?
My answer can be summed up in four phrases.
From the moment I arrived at Edcamp I was engaged in conversations with other educators, wether it was seeing a familiar face from 10 years ago and catching up or meeting someone new and finding out where they were from and what they teach. To be engaged in conversations with passionate educators is one of the most reviving things. Maybe it was the duct tape, tin foil, and paper activity where we divided into groups and invented something that had not been invented yet that hooked me. Or, perhaps it was the buzz that filled the room when we put our session ideas into Dotstorming and voted on the topics that we would like to hear more about. The day was engaging, and when engaged we learn, we share ideas, and we support one another.
When I think of Professional Development I think of day long events where I have to sit and listen to someone present about something that I may or may not be interested in with very little opportunities for feedback from the audience. But, not at Edcamp. This Professional Development was directed by the participants. We chose what would be discussed and the ideas that would be shared. In each of my sessions I had the opportunity to hear first hand experiences of things that were working well in classrooms, and I had the opportunity to share my own personal experiences. Each participant assumes a leadership role at Edcamp. How amazing would it be if we ran our classrooms this way?
My learning at Edcamp was personalized. I was able to vote on what I wanted to discuss, and I was able to choose what sessions I wanted to attend. I was able to visit the Makerspace that was set up and create something of my choosing. Our professional lives are impacted by our personal learning experiences.
The participants at EdcampWNC have a passion for education in North Carolina. From those in leadership roles who helped to organize the event, to the veteran teachers who were in need of a recharge, or the beginning teachers who were needing assurance that they chose the right profession, there was PASSION. It was very apparent from the conversations in the rooms, the ideas that were being shared, and the progress that is being made in classrooms across the state that a passion for teaching and learning is at the heart of educators. When a teacher teaches with passion their students can't help but notice!
What I have taken away from my first Edcamp experience I hope to bring back to the community of Educators and students that I serve in Burke County. I am looking forward to participating in many more Edcamps in the future! Thank you #EdcampWNC!