This past weekend I had the privilege of attending my first EdCamp. Hosted by two teachers in our district, it was free, it was local, and it was fun (and I think EdCamp Happy Valley will be back next year). If you haven’t attended an EdCamp before, essentially it is an unconference. This means there’s no set schedule or set presenters until the day of the event. Whoever shows up shares ideas of what they want to talk about/learn about, and then the organizers create a schedule based on what people present want to explore. Once the schedule is completed, you go to a room where there’s a topic interesting to you, and you have a conversation about the topic.
This democratic approach to Professional Development was eye-opening for me. I know there are some amazing professionals in my district and in nearby schools, and this opportunity to network with them and share ideas and learn about how they approached challenges in their classrooms was fascinating. to me. I attended a session on flipping the classroom and walked away with people to contact, with ideas of how to integrate it, and advice on what is best practice for flipping with high school students.
There was one session I did go to where there didn’t seem to be anyone in the room who was an expert, and when people just started Googling information on the topic, I excused myself and went with a colleague to start brainstorming ideas from a previous session. The beauty of the EdCamp model is the concept that if you don’t find a session working out for you, it is not frowned upon to remove yourself and use one of the spaces designated as learning lounges.
The timing for this event was perfect for me. We’ve returned from spring break, the third marking period is ending, and I needed some re-energizing to approach the last marking period. If you haven’t had a chance to try an EdCamp yet, I would recommend it. At first, I thought it was all tech-centered, but I realized when I arrived, any topic could be suggested. Driven by teachers, centered on students, EdCamps provide a new model for professional development that I found appealing.