Monday, 24 February 2014

Redcamp14: Party time, excellent!

Teachers’ Convention comes at a great time in the year: February! We have been back to school after the Christmas break for about a month or a little more, it is still cold outside and we have had WAY too many indoor recesses! As educators, we are ready for a break from the classroom and look forward to learning from experts and fellow colleagues presenting on a variety of topics. Most teachers will tell you they enjoy the sessions at Convention but the part they really look forward to is the chance to reconnect with colleagues they have known for years, have worked with in the past or even who work in the same building but they never see in their busy school days. They also very much look forward to actually having time to eat out for lunch! 

The sessions at Convention tend to be a lot of sit and get which is worthwhile if the speaker is dynamic and has some thought-provoking things to say. However, I often come away from those types of sessions with a few key phrases I will remember for a short time and then, if I don’t read more about the topic, I will likely forget what it is I was to have learned. This reminds of the popular quote; attributed to an ancient Chinese proverb, Native American saying or Ben Franklin, depending on where you look on the internet:

(image courtesy of: )
I enjoy listening to the professional and often times famous speakers at Convention but it is kind of like going to the symphony. I sit, I enjoy, I clap and then I leave. I’m not sure how much I will retain or remember but I can say that it was entertaining. I feel that my involvement in my learning in this format has improved slightly though backchannel Twitter commenting which involves me as a participant more than passive listening has done b.t. (Before Twitter), but I find that the real learning happens AFTER the session or presentation in conversation with my colleagues over coffee or lunch. This dialogue about issues in Education helps me relate to what was presented and will trigger further learning and curiosity about the topic. I may continue a chat about it with someone at school, online or at a district event or meeting. I may purchase the presenter’s book or related books or look for more information on Twitter or Google+. It is this active involvement in my learning which fires me up and which I feel impacts my practice as a teacher and administrator.

That’s what I love about the edcamp style of PD we saw last year at Redcamp13 and our District Day of Personalized Learning and Collaboration, both of which will repeat this year. The conversations happen right there, with the presenter in the room who may or may not claim expertise. They may in fact have much to offer in the way of expertise or experience or they may have simply offered to facilitate the conversation with thought-provoking questions, or resources. Whatever the structure, they provide the stimulus to get EVERYONE in the room to share their knowledge and experiences at the table (or circle, or sofa, or wherever we choose to sit!) and not just the paid expert at the front of the lecture hall.

So, if you are also a fan of the sort of connecting that happens AFTER the PD at Convention, you will most certainly love what happens at Redcamp14. It is participant driven, it is real conversations about education, it is involvement as a learner, it is FREE, and it is FUN! It is the after-party while the party is still going on! Excellent!

Hope to “party” with you at Redcamp14: May 31, 2014 in Red Deer, Alberta at Glendale Sciences and Technology School.

Diane Roberts
(image courtesy: