It is not too often that you are provided with an opportunity to truly collaborate as a community in the education realm. Many variables outside of your control hinder the process, as well as the honesty that could progress it. When one does come across such, it not only reaffirms your practices, but also empowers you more than ever before. I had always imagined professional development occurring in such a way, where educators would pull the band-aides off and talk in an informal manner of pragmatic solutions to issues occurring. I had imagined discussion of pedagogy, discussions about our weaknesses and solutions to improve them. With all such said, it wasn’t until last Spring that I found such.
Despite hearing of the power in EdCamps, I had yet to attend one until last Spring. Naturally, it seemed something was always in the way. It wasn’t until Spring Break of last year that I had the opportunity to attend with a colleague. We were the ones mad enough, alongside 100 others, to spend our first day of Spring Break developing a sense of community, learning from one another, and just enjoying the fellowship of other educators who seek to better their practice for the common good of their students.
What it provided us was one thing, but what it meant to us was another. For all who are educators, here’s what an EdCamp means to us, and what it could mean to you!
1. Fellowship: Due to the natural, organic set up of an EdCamp, fellowship is a highlight as it comes to serve as a place where teachers encourage, brainstorm, and discuss personal issues related to their profession and classroom. In one sense it validates your efforts, and in another it challenges you to take on different perspectives.
2. Voice: As a young educator, I have always been discouraged by the lack of voice in our profession. I never understood why teachers weren’t encouraged to advocate. It appeared to me the “teacher” voice was null and void despite us being on the front lines, knowing what students truly needed. For such a reason, an EdCamp promotes voice, and strengthens the profession. A group of empowered and pragmatic educators can be transformative, and this was the “think tank” for such to occur. It served, and continues to serve, as a safe place to question, to voice concern, and to brainstorm solutions amongst like-minded educators (who are devoted enough to attend professional development on a day-off!)
3. Individualized Learning: I never understood why learning for teachers does not mirror best practices of our classrooms. EdCamps showed me that learning can be in the hands of the teacher, and it can be led by teachers. The notion of teachers learning from teachers is enough to empower any community. More so, to know that I will come out of the opportunity with a tool applicable to my needs is enough reason to attend!
4. The Need: In an era in which the profession is consistently attacked, I find there is hope in EdCamps. I reminds me I am not alone, and that there are remarkable educators striving to do courageous acts each day. To know that there are people who choose to push the status quo, to help one another in an honest, judgmental free manner, and to empower one another to have voice in their practices is surreal. Titles do not matter here. Competition is not present. It is purely for the sake of sharing to help one another. Ultimately, it shows educators they are leaders, and their expertise is of merit…that they are in fact the experts, and that they can count on one another!
To me, an EdCamp is all about community. About sharing and empowering one another in common interest – for our students in North Carolina.
And for the education profession, this is a huge!
What does an EdCamp mean to YOU?