This past Friday I attended (with six other school leaders from Holy Spirit) and led a conversation at EdcampYYC. My congratulations to the organizers of the event, Matt Armstrong (@Armstrong YYC) and Paul Genge (@paulgenge) and the host Elboya School. Although we’ve held similar “open spaces” at our divisional PD day and for our Learning Leadership Team and grade level meetings, this was my first official edcamp experience. Before I share my thoughts on the edcamp experience, let me take you through my day.
Edcampers numbering around 300 began the day with a short keynote address from Dr. Ron Glasberg, an Associate Professor at the University of Calgary. Dr. Glasberg highlighted compassion, courage, creativity, consciousness of conscious as necessary components for teaching for innocence. He also reminded us of leading by example, everyday, in front of our students. Following Dr. Glasberg’s keynote, participants had a choice of 30-40 sessions on various topics over three time periods through the day. Each of these sessions either had a lead facilitator or an open facilitation concept that allowed participants to take the conversation where they directed it.
My first session focused on a movement away from grades and was facilitated by Joe Bower. Joe is a passionate educator who believes that testsandgrades (one word according to Joe) limit our ability for impactful learning. While Joe and I have not always agreed, I can’t but admire his passionate stance for wanting to do the right thing. We may sometimes take very different routes, but we both want high quality learning not to be jeopardized by ineffective accountability. My second session was open facilitated by the group on the topic of digital citizenship. There are some great resources out to support the teaching of digital citizenship and this session highlighted the importance of connecting with one another so as not to re-invent the wheel. I need to give credit to Ron Eberts for a thought that was a great takeaway from this session, “We teach digital citizenship by students being digital citizens just like we teach people how to drive by driving!” The last session of the day, held right after lunch (thanks Matt & Paul) was led by me and focused on leadership during transformation. The key points to my presentation focused on the importance of role-modeling as a senior leader, creating a risk taking environment and building trust. Each of these topics could be a discussion in itself and some great points were brought up by co-learners of the group.
Edcamp illustrates an important piece to remember that all professional learning begins with a conversation. When we are prepared to listen to a different perspective, be open to new ideas and are prepared to shed our comfort zone, learning is highly engaging. The edcamp format should be experienced either formally (preferred) or informally by everyone in the education system. It is rich in learning and meets the personal and professional needs of all involved. No matter where you sit in the hierarchy of education, edcamp reminds us that we are all colleagues, all co-learners and all co-creators of an improved system for students.