When I got the email stating I would be able to participate in Washington, DC in early June, I was pretty ecstatic. You see, the EdCamp experience has been arguably the best thing I’ve seen come out of education since I started my career. At any given #EdCamp, you have the opportunity to meet face to face with your personal learning network (PLN), learn about topics that you are passionate about and/or have an area of personal weakness. These people inspire you virtually on a daily basis, and now you get to connect profile pics with real faces. You do all of this in a safe space, which is why IMO Edcamp is so successful. I’m excited that Arne Duncan felt the event was successful enough to be planning next year’s event already. While this is good news, I’ve spent the last 45 days since #EdCampUSA thinking about how the DOE and other EdCampers across the United States can truly move the collective needles in the area of embracing the EdCamp experience:
- I encourage every experienced EdCamper to lead a planning team within their own school/district to make it happen locally. Even if the first attempt is small, make it happen. If you get shot down, ask again. Bringing colleagues and school leaders to an upcoming area EdCamp oftentimes helps. YOU must be the CHANGE you want to see in your own organization.
- Follow the Twitterfeed of other EdCamps happening, and tag colleagues, school leaders, parents on tweets that relate to your school goals. Your next chance occurs on Monday, August 4, 2014 in Philadelphia where #EdCampLdr will take place. School and teacher leaders from 8 states will travel into town to participate in this all day un-conference hosted at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.
- Talk to your PTA/PTO/Home & School about planning a ParentCamp. Use the website parentcamp.org to think through what this experience means for your school and community. There have been 6 Parentcamps to date, and more planned for the 14-15 school year. The un-conference experiences really speaks to the 4 Core Beliefs at the root of Beyond the Bakesale (2007). The Institute for Educational Leadership (@IELconnects) are planning to embed the ParentCamp experience in the 2015 National Family-Community Engagement Conference in Chicago, IL (June 22-25 in Chicago, IL) See image —–>
- Participation in EdCamps /ParentCamps must “count” for school leader and educator state credits. Educators are spending their Saturdays learning with other exemplary educators, parents and school leaders, oftentimes traveling over 2 hours to get to the venue. The comments we hear on the way out the door at the end of a full day of learning range from “Best PD I’ve ever experienced” to “This was like a vacation day of learning.” We as school leaders, policy-makers must listen, assess this professional learning taking place, and evolve our expectations so that our teachers have a choice to participate in un-conferences throughout the year, and that that they are supported and encouraged at the local and state level (In PA I’m speaking of Act 45/48 credits).
- Ed-Entrepreneurs must be at EdCamps learning from educators. This is a great opportunity to get involved in raw discussion of what’s best for kids. Future apps, websites and tools can truly speak to the needs of educators, parents and school leaders. The opportunity exists with every EdCamp to have discourse around these evolving needs. Finally, no EdCamp should have to beg for sponsorships. Today’s web 2.0 tools should be lining up to fund EdCamps everywhere. The exposure is global, the learning never ends and the relationships built truly matter – Need an example? Check out Remind’s Clara Galan as she reaches out daily to her PLN and interacts during conferences and un-conferences – all the while learning how their tool can better meet the changing needs of today’s educators, students and parents.
So if you’ve been to an EdCamp and experienced the wow factor and PLN-focused learning environment, I challenge you to step up and lead your own organization down this path of meaningful PD. It’s now been over 5 years since the first EdCamp took place in Philadelphia. It’s time to get serious about moving these conversations along in our local districts. Who else but you as an experienced EdCamper can articulate what it means to be connected, collaborative, transparent and always learning? I believe the EdCamp movement will gradually continue to flourish (especially now with national support), but it is YOU who will need to carry the torch in your local districts where so many K-12 leadership teams haven’t yet experienced “EdCamp.” Sitting here in July/August is a great time to make an appointment with school leadership and/or draft the email that gets it on the radar.
Below, have a listen to my sit down conversation with Arne Duncan at the National PTA Convention (June 2014). Topics discussed: EdCampUSA, ParentCamp & Parent Leadership (that week’s #ptchat topic).
Other great #EdCampUSA posts I’ve read since the experience:
- EdCamp USA Takeaways by TomMurray
- Arne Duncan Visits EdCampUSA by Katrina Stevens
- We Had EdCampUSA, Now What by Tom Whitby
- Just “a teacher” reflecting on EdCampUSA by Stacey Roshan
- Mr. Duncan & Mr. Culatta #edcampusa by Kristen Swanson
- Teacher Voice at #edcampusa by Mary Beth Hertz
If I missed yours, please add it to the comment section below. If you were there but haven’t written about it, what are you waiting for?