The EdCamp experience began in 2010 thanks to a thoughtful group of educators from Philadelphia who decided to lead an "'unconference" for educators called EdCamp Philly. I'm not sure they imagined when they first gathered that hundreds of these eventswould be held across the globe within five years. However, given the fact that the majority of educators feel the district professional development provided for them lacks relevance, we shouldn't be surprised that groups of educators gathered and created meaningful learning experiences on the fly that far surpassed the quality of most other professional development.
In fact, this now-global phenomenon has evolved to the point where the EdCamp Foundation was established to support this important movement that allows educators to lead their own learning. Fast forward to 2015 and we can officially say the EdCamp movement is making an impact on educational leaders. The people who create most of the professional development experiences in schools are getting first-hand experiences with the unconference model. Thanks to some great work from Joe Mazza and his highly successful EdCamp Leadership event last summer at the University of Pennsylvania, this year's EdCamp Leaderdhip event went global. This past Monday, EdCamp Leadership sessions were held in 17 locations in 15 states, including events in Chile and China.
I was fortunate to participate in EdCamp Leadership Boston at Bedford High School. A quick look at the schedule gives you an idea of the variety of relevant topics that a group of thoughtful educators can develop when give the chance. In addition, the conversations and resources from EdCamps can be utilized for those who can't physically attend by clicking on links to the sessions which connect to GoogleDocs with names and contact information for attendees as well as useful links on the topics discussed. For those who are adept at utilizing Twitter, conversations and sharing of resources continue during and after the sessions by following the #EdcampLdr hashtag.
For a great summary of why the EdCamp experience is so powerful, I will borrow a few words from the EdCamp Leadership website:
Most people say that the best part of "traditional" conferences is the conversation that occurs with fellow participants between sessions, or perhaps over lunch.Now, imagine an entire CONFERENCE built around conversations—informal, small-group gatherings with honest, earnest discourse where the expertise is fully acknowledged to be IN THE ROOM—not just at the front of it.
The ultimate success of EdCamp Leadership will be the development of EdCamp model professional development experiences back in the districts where the attendees work. School leaders need to loosen the reigns on the top-down approach to developing professional learning schedules for their teachers and ensure that educators within their schools and districts can have opportunities to led their own learning. Isn't this the ultimate goal for all learners in our schools?
In closing, I will leave you with the ultimate assessment of the EdCamp model. Check out the look on the faces of the learners at the end of the day from three of the EdCamp Leadership locations below!
EdCamp Leadership Boston
EdCamp Leadership Baltimore
EdCamp Leadership Chicago