Sunday, 12 May 2013

If you build it, they will camp!

Redcamp13...born out of a conversation about edcamps...  “Have you heard about the unconference, participant-driven idea for professional development called edcamp?” “Yeah, intriguing idea.”  “We should plan one!”  “Ok!”  

There really wasn’t any hesitation after that.  If you build it, they will camp.  That was our hope in planning Central Alberta’s first edcamp which was dubbed Redcamp (a play on words for our city of Red Deer from the creative mind of @EbertsR).  So we did build it, and on May 11, 2013 Redcamp13 happened!  People interested in conversations and learning about education came to Glendale Sciences & Technology School in Red Deer, Alberta.  Teachers, educational assistants, principals and vice-principals along with central office administrators were there.  Pre-service teachers and their professors from university were there. But that was not all, no that was not all.  There were speech/language pathologists, city counsellors and school board trustees too!  Wow!  The depth and breadth of knowledge and experience really did justice to the saying, “the expert is the room”.  

The buzz in the gym just prior to the opening remarks by the Redcamp team was palpable.  People were excited to be there even on a beautiful Saturday morning in May when they could easily have been doing other things.  I know I wasn’t the only one wondering how this would turn out but we were all eager to try it.  Sessions were added to the board, coffee was poured, conversations started over Twitter handles on nametags..."Hey! So nice to meet someone from my Twitter PLN face to face!"

Things got started with a short introduction by @EbertsR, @joe_bower and @graingered and then we were off to hour-long sessions which for some discussions could have been longer but there is only so much time in the day and so many topics to learn and talk about!

As one of the organizers of Redcamp, my intent was to pop into many sessions to get a flavour for what was going on and maybe snap a few photos for Twitter.  I started out this way but many of the sessions I intended to only pop in on, drew me in and I stayed.  Conversations around inclusion lead by @BeyondTheCrayon, engaging all students led by @JasTravers and whether math should be graded led by @d_martin05 were fascinating and inspiring.  Conversation and sharing about turning your classroom into a creativity lab and starting a creativity revolution led by @twnpenner got my brain jazzed UP!  I learned about purposeful questions and collaboration by actively participating in the process with businessman/city counsellor @harris4rd.  Every session I went to gave me something which either changed, deepened, challenged or furthered my thinking. And there were many other sessions that I didn't get a chance to go to but wish I would have had the time for as well.

There were quite a few steps involved in planning our first Redcamp (which I will leave for another post in case anyone is thinking of planning one of their own) and with our busy professional and personal lives, at times I wondered if it was all going to be worth it.  All I can now say is YES, YES, YES!  It was worth it!  

Will there be a Redcamp14?  Absolutely!  Will there be other edcamps because those who came to ours are inspired to host one of their own?  I don’t doubt it at all.  The feedback we have had from Redcamp has been fantastic and very positive.  I’m looking forward not only to planning Redcamp14 but also to attending edcamps elsewhere.  If they build it, I will camp!

Diane Roberts