Sunday, 1 June 2014

Redcamp 2014... An Engaging Experience

Well, another edcamp in Red Deer is on the books. There were so many thoughts that struck me during the event, but one really hit me. At an unprecedented time of excitement and change in the domain of education in Alberta, a large number of engaged and connected educators and others who support teaching and learning found the time on a Saturday to come together in collaborative conversation; they were there because they wanted to be there. This is such a positive and encouraging thing.

Participants at #redcamp14 came together to connect, share and receive in that awesome place between analyzing perspective and moving people to action... the "edcamp sweet spot" so to speak.

Teachers, administrators, parents, students, educational assistants, professionals who support education, politicians all took time out of their personal lives to create dialog around making education better, and there were 19% more who participated this year than at last year`s inaugural Redcamp event... and we were thrilled with the turnout then! This is incredible, and inspiring and definitely provides a rationale for planning another event next year, and perhaps coordinating a series of edcamp events throughout Alberta.

I was fortunate yesterday to speak with organizers of edcamps in Edmonton and Calgary, and also a fledgling event to be held in Parkland County. We were bantering about the concept of "Edcamp Alberta" next year, with "tour stops" in existing edcamp communities, (Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, Red Deer and now Parkland County.) Doing this would expand our ability to promote and cross promote the edcamp experience, and ramp up the level of social collaboration behind planning them. The process may even inspire other local groups to create a new event tour stop within their community. We all have good ideas and ways to make things better, faster and cheaper... sharing our knowledge and experience with each other would strengthen everyone's event offering. This would be connecting in the true spirit of edcamps, but with total respect for the local flare of each event. Redcamp organizers are excited about the potential of this effort.

I heard the word engagement many times yesterday. I heard it from a group of Glendale Sciences and Technology School students who hosted a session describing their efforts to initiate a TED Ed Club at their school. I heard it from educators during other sessions and in casual hallway conversations saying we need more of the kind of opportunity to connect in engaging professional dialog that edcamps provide.

I heard it from a school council chair who stated she felt the edcamp model would be an excellent platform to engage parents and community in the school improvement dialog and I also heard it from many new teachers who were excited to discover the format of edcamps and how they provide so many opportunities to connect with other engaged educators excited about what they do and how they do it, not to mention other stakeholders in providing high quality education for kids. Overheard from one enthusiastic young teacher...
"I love coming to a place where everybody loves their job."
And from another...
"I wish all of my professional development looked like this; I feel engaged and connected here as opposed just sitting and getting."
To be sure, edcamps are not just a ride on the professional development train. Edcamps are not passive, they are active. They are hopeful. They are engaging. They connect and they inspire. Here's to another great event at #redcamp14, and looking forward to helping ours and other edcamps grow and thrive in Alberta.

See you next year!