Ever since I had the opportunity to attend my first EdCamp a few years ago in Toronto I was hooked! I enjoyed the teacher-directed forward thinking that I encountered and how some ideas challenged my thinking and put me outside of my comfort zone. In addition, I loved networking with other passionate educators from outside my school board. As a result, I felt passionate about bringing this form of professional development to teachers in my area, as did the rest of the team that I was privileged to work with for EdCamp905.Last Saturday, I had the amazing opportunity of participating and helping be apart of the organizing committee of EdCamp905. It was a wonderful day and started with a inspirational keynote by Adam Mckim from CHAT to the Future. Following the keynote, several discussions were held based on the questions of participants. After lunch, participants had the opportunity to participate in a World Cafe in small groups, discussing questions such as, “Does Canada need a National Curriculum?” The day concluded with a special Skype call with the children of CHAT in Uganda who sang for us. Participants of Edcamp905 also sang with Diana Planche leading us in “Lean on Me”, a highlight for many and brought tears to some eyes. Finally, we were blessed to have many wonderful prizes donated by our sponsors. It was a wonderful day of learning, collaboration and networking. Thanks to all who attended! I can’t wait until next year! Below are some photos highlighting this great day.
Special thanks to organizers Tom Codotta, Steven Hurley, Dan Martinic, Karen Yates who were a dream to work with as well as the amazing volunteers who helped make the event a success! The feedback from attendees of EdCamp905 has been extremely positive; here is one of my favourites:
“I had an absolutely fabulous time on Saturday that my mind has been buzzing with excitement ever since. It was such an incredible thing to actually experience ideas in action. I go to conferences/workshops but many times the delivery is not what is being preached. Saturday’s form was definitely out of my comfort zone but I now feel more empowered and I thank you for being a big part of that. I can’t stop sharing the ideas and practices at my school and now have a group that is definitely curious. Thank you for all the incredible work, patience, inspiration and heart you put into this amazing day. The ripple effects will be long lasting.”
At EdCamp905 We will be using TweetBeam to engage our audience and share learning throughout the day.
If you've never been to an EdCamp before, you may be a little reluctant to share the questions that are on your mind. You may not think that others will be interested in what you have to say or you may believe that your perspective may not be in line with other participants.
Perfectly natural and perfectly acceptable.
But I would like to assure you that there are some pretty unique things about the EdCamp approach that should allay some of your hesitations!
First, EdCamps aren't designed as echo chambers. True enough, the format does tend to attract many like minds, but the real excitement at an EdCamp happens when people actually "respectfully" disagree with each other. It doesn't mean that the conversation becomes polarized. It's my experience that participants are quite respectful of everyone's insights, experience and perspective. All voices are of equal value at an EdCamp and this usually lends itself to very positive and fruitful dialogue.
Second, we assume that the questions you bring to EdCamp things that are important to you. And f they are important to you, chances are that they are important to others as well. That doesn't mean that you won't get some lively discussion or, perhaps, a little pushback. But that's how we learn from each other and that's the whole dynamic of the event. Really, it is!
Finally, the questions that make it to the agenda for the day are ones that are voted on by the group. Using a form of "dot-mocracy", your question is subjected to a type of reflective selection that ensures that others see value in the conversations that about to take place. It doesn't mean that only the BEST questions make it to the discussion table. It means that there is a powerful way of ensuring that all of the conversations that take place resonate with a good number of the participants.
We have two more days before EdCamp905, and we hope that you're getting as excited as your planning team. Don't stop thinking about the questions! Remember, you help to create the agenda from the things that are important to you!
Many people new to the EdCamp "unconference" format come to their first event fully intending to hang out on the edges of the conversation. We often hear, "Well, I'm just going to go to check it out." or "I'll sign up for a couple of conversations, but I'll just be an observer."
Fat chance! It's likely that, despite your best intentions, there will be a question, a topic of conversation or an idea that will capture your imagination and cause your lips to start moving!
After all, you're not giving up a Saturday of your time—away from family and your regular weekend routine—to come and be a fly on the wall. Oh, you may start off that way, but I'm pretty confident that, by the end of the day, you'll find yourself immersed in some pretty interesting conversations.
And the reason I'm so confident in saying that is because EdCamp905 is energized by the questions that people like you are living every day. They are the questions that you come to school with in the morning. They are the ones that you take with you at the end of the day. They are the questions that emerge when you're talking to your own children about their day at school. They are the ones that are inspired by the connections that they are making as they move further along their own learning journey.
They are the questions that excite you, make you angry and, at times, leave you confused.
They may not seem like profound, earth-shattering questions but they are important because they are honest, real and they matter to you.
So, in these days leading up to EdCamp905, take some time to think about those questions that are energizing you. Chances are they will also energize someone else.
And then you have a conversation!
Ok, I admit that I haven't been to as many EdCamps as some of my friends and colleagues. But that hasn't been because of lack of desire. As my children have continued to grow (who knew they would do that?), weekend time has become a hot commodity around the Hurley household and so I've been forced to watch some EdCamps from the sidelines.
But there is a very simple reason I continue to support, attend and get excited whenever I hear about a new iteration of the unConference concept: EdCamps honour the wisdom that is in the room.
For most of our career we work in relative isolation—in our own classrooms, with our own students and, to a certain extent, in our own way. Despite our talk about the power of collaboration through PLC's, Social Media and the like, the heart of the profession is still beating in a type of private world that Larry Cuban and others refer to as a black box.
EdCamps provide the space for each of us to crack the lid on that black box and, through conversations—many of them unexpected—pull out a few things to share.
EdCamps allow participants to set the agenda, ask the questions, decide the conversations that they are going to have and begin to understand more deeply that they have professional knowledge and wisdom. And when you add to the EdCamp mix parents, community members, and students, the knowledge base expands in a way that you're not going to experience at traditional PD sessions.
EdCamps are not designed to replace traditional forms of professional learning or development. They are taking their place, however, as one of the rising stars in that rich constellation of ways that we continue to learn.
Looking forward to meeting you at EdCamp905! Looking forward to learning from you and sharing in this small but powerful part of the journey!
Being well-planned has a certain value in our lives! Whether we're parents running a household, educators managing a classroom, or business people running a small or large organization, good planning is seen as a key to success.
Well, with the EdCamp model that has emerged in Canada over the past several years, part of the planning is to...well...not plan. Now, don't get me wrong; the amount of organizational detail that must be addressed to successfully launch an EdCamp is tremendous. Just ask your EdCamp905 team.
But there are elements of the day that need to be left to the participants.
And the agenda is one of them. While the times and locations of EdCamp conversations are pre-determined, the content of those sessions are left "blank" until the guests arrive. It is at that point that the fun begins.
When you come to EdCamp905, you'll be invited to write down the questions and topics that you would like to discuss, post them on the Discussion Wall and, once all of the ideas have been posted, vote on the ones that most resonate with you.
At that point, the EdCamp905 kicks into high gear and sets about arranging the agenda for the day, assigning room number and session times. And then the conversations begin.
To be sure, it's a process that is infused with a great deal of trust, a whole lot of enthusiasm and, most likely, a little bit of caffeine. But that's part of the energy of EdCamp. And that's part of the reason you won't want to miss EdCamp905!
Only a couple more weeks to go, so if you haven't reserved your place, be sure to do it today!
And stay tuned for more ideas on how to get the most out of your EdCamp905 experience.
As educators, our professional development is usually based on someone else's formulation of the question and, more often than not, their own answer to that question. The question may resonate with us, and we may even agree with the answers provided, but it is still someone else's question.
Questions are powerful things and the questions that we ask reveal a great deal about what is important to us, what we care about and what we're willing to stand for.
EdCamp905 is an opportunity for you to articulate what is on your mind when it comes to education. It's an opportunity for you to think about the authentic challenges you are facing, the successes that you are having and the space that exists between the schools you dream about and the schools that you and your students experience.
It's a powerful space, full of potential and possibility. It's a space that is energized through the questions that we ask.
So, in the days leading up to EdCamp905, you're invited to look around the school-related world that you live in everyday. Notice those moments of engagement, if not joy on the part of you and your students. Notice the moments of tension and disconnect. Notice the moments where you don't feel anything.
And then ask yourself, "What is happening here?", because in that process of "noticing deeply" are the seeds of a really powerful question. And it's that question (and ones just like it) that you're invited to bring along with you to EdCamp905.
What's in a question? Hmmm...can't wait to find out!
More to come...
So what would encourage close to 150 people to leave their homes on a Saturday morning in May to attend an event that promised no notable keynote speakers, no recognizable workshop offerings and no promise of publisher prize bags? How could a simple website, a few tweets or, in some cases, the prodding of another colleague get so many to commit to something which, admittedly, seems to be a little vague and undefined.
Yet, since 2011, that's exactly what's been happening right across Canada, in communities both large and small! And it's what is about to happen again in Mississauga on May 14, 2016.
As a participant, an organizer and a supporter of the EdCamp movement I think that both the appeal and the success of EdCamp comes down to one thing—the ability to have the conversations that participants really want to have.
At its most fundamental level, the EdCamp concept and format gives voice to the passion and energy that exists at the grassroots of this profession. It speaks to the need and the desire to engage teachers, administrators, parents and community members in the types of conversations into which we're not traditonally invited. It's about stepping away from the agendae that have been set for us by others to create a place for alternative ideas and alternative questions.
Back in 2011, after the first Canadian EdCamp was organized in Vancouver, many people assumed that the movement would be a flash in the pan, fizzling out after a year or two. But, it's a movement that continues to be energized and enacted at the grassroots level and, if the continued proliferation of EdCamps is any indication, it's a movement that will continue to resonate, representing an alternative way of talking about education and citizenship within this place we call school!
So, welcome to EdCamp905 and stay tuned to this space for more information on the format for the day, how you can help prepare the agenda for the day as well as ways that you can plug into the energy before and after the event.
This is EdCamp905 and you're now officially part of it!