After attending another amazing EdCamp (#EdCamp35), I came away feeling invigorated and ready to continue my learning. I have always considered myself a lifelong learner and, in the past, read as many educational texts as I could get my hands on. I attended as many professional development opportunities, including conferences, workshops, mini-sessions and learning teams as I could. However, I always felt a little down after theses events. I would have amazing conversations with educators, discovering new ways to engage and enrich the learning opportunities of my students and then find that I would disappear into my classroom, trying new things and exploring the curricular road map with my students, but not having opportunities to continue the conversation. There would be, obviously, times when I could chat with other teachers in my school around education and pedagogy, but those conversations weren’t as often as I would like. I learnt by listening and asking and watching. As I became more ‘experienced’ in the classroom, the conversations became fewer and fewer with teachers. I would talk with the student teachers, newer teachers and some very experienced teachers, but I felt something was missing. I anxiously waited for the next big conference or professional development day so I could talk with other teachers from other schools.
Then I found twitter. It was the summer of 2009 (probably a Brian Adams song in there, somewhere) and I slowly started to connect with other educators. First with the lurking, then retweeting, then actually connecting. The conversations no longer were site based. I could connect to the world! I experienced a tiny thrill when some of my educational superstars began to connect with me, asking questions, proposing ideas and generally giving me the support I needed to move from the learning to the doing. I know that at first, many educators thought I was crazy (probably true) when I talked about what was happening in the twittersphere: the book chats, the standard based learning chats and the micro-conversations around educational ideas.
Somehow, through an incredible synergy, twitter and edcamps came together in my professional journey. For me, edcamps are the physical manifestation of twitter. Educators from around the region (or globe, in some cases) came together to talk about their practice. There were no experts, only learners, eager to share ideas and projects and thoughts around educational reform and action. Each session was like a #bcedchat, #sblchat or #colchat. Everyone had a voice in this democratization of teacher learning. And the ideas didn’t stop at the end of the day. Even though I didn’t pick up any new educational texts at the end of an edcamp, I did connect with new teachers trying new things. It is almost the quintessential experience of praxis: theory and practice in action. During my Masters of Education programme over ten years ago (I so want to mulligan that) there was a lot of talk about Action Research and getting the university theories to the classroom teachers. Edcamps go one step further: they allow space for people interested in our education system to share.
There is not hierarchy of position, it is all about sharing knowledge. It is my hope that the model of EdCamp will form the basis of new teacher learning. There should be one available to anyone, every weekend. And with twitter, there is. Follow any one of the edcamps that are happening now and learn, share, and grow with our increasingly connected community of educators!
Really, it has become one million EdCamps to teach us all (as we teach others).