For 8 years I attended various teacher conventions in Alberta, both during my practicums and as a teacher. All the teachers and admin from a particular region would come together for two days to attend sessions and listen to keynote speakers. The presentations were usually good, but what made the conventions valuable was connecting with other teachers. By the last few years it became tradition to meet with my good friend for lunch and spend a couple hours discussing all things “education”.
For the last 3 years I have been teaching in a private school. While our professional development has been useful, I have missed learning with teachers in other schools with other experiences. This past summer I started following other educators on Twitter in an attempt to expand my PLN beyond my school based colleagues. It was through my interactions on Twitter that I came to learn about EdCamp35. It was exactly what I needed!
The EdCamp35 team did a great job of making me feel welcome and providing all the required information. It was great to have a voice in suggesting and voting on the sessions for the day. Having the schedule and session notes on GoogleDocs made the learning more collaborative and easy to follow. I love the idea of voting with your feet and having empty rooms for small groups to continue their discussions once the session was over. It was like a day long “lunch with my friends” that I had missed so much.
In all of my sessions there were deep discussions about the future of education, with respectful disagreements and thoughtful questions. It was great to meet so many people with a passion to make education more meaningful for our 21st century students. One of the best things about the day was having all “stakeholders” in the conversations: teachers, administrators, parents and students. In particular, having student input was very valuable – it is their education, they need to have a say!
I left feeling inspired, invigorated and determined to work towards being a better teacher. I also left with the question of how to bring more “stakeholders” into the conversation. How do we promote these kinds of discussions in our schools, communities and districts?