The Power of Passion and Edcamps
This weekend I attended my 7th Edcamp. I think. To be honest I have stopped keeping track of annual professional learning experiences because it makes me feel old. Edcamps, Educon, Teachmeet, Online K-12, all began before Twitter, before Facebook, and before the iPhone and iPad became mainstream. Teachers have been sharing and teaching each other since I have been teaching, over 20 years ago. But this weekend Edcamp felt different to me, not only because I am back in the classroom teaching after a 10 year hiatus, but because I am teaching in a non-public school setting. This weekend as I attended sessions and discussions led by educators I often found myself thinking:
What does this look like all classrooms, with all students?
What does this sound like in all classrooms, with all students?
I was inspired by a few fellow educators who attended sessions with open minds, willing to learn, but in other sessions I was disappointed with educator biases and egos. I couldn’t help but think that if educators want to make a difference and elevate teaching they need to listen more and talk-sometimes-less. We all have experiences to share-which does not make us experts. We all have passions and favorite grade levels, subjects and resources, but that does not make us experts. We can all learn a little something from each other if we are willing to set aside our deeply held opinions and the narrowly defined worlds in which we live.
I would recommend the School Reform Initiative resources for anyone truly wishing to work with peers to elevate their teaching craft to improve student learning.
I love the original Edcamp model (2010), but this edcamp felt different. Maybe it was a case of what a colleague said before we got started, “You get out of it what you want,” and I had my own biases going in. I held the pre-conceived notion that because I taught in a private school many sessions would be irrelevant to me, and that because I was surrounded by public school teachers session discussions could not include all voices around the table, unless I spoke up. By the last session my edcamp experience felt no more enriching than a “sit and git” PD session.
Reflecting on the day I should have walked out of sessions that were not meeting my needs. That is the power of voting with your feet. Sometimes that does not feel right, and it just feels rude, but that is my opinion and my choice. In the end, I walked away with some good ideas, some resources to try, and the ability to reflect upon my own practice.
The power of Edcamp PD is in the empowerment of teacher PD, and effective teaching improves student outcomes. I cannot control how others teach and view the world of education, but I can control what happens when I am with kids.