The following article was published in Lethbridge Herald on January 15th.
Teachers have always engaged in professional development. The opportunity to learn, hone one’s skills and improve instructional practice is, and will always be, a professional requirement. In the past, school divisions have held professional development days and teachers have attended conferences to satisfy this requirement. The success of this type of professional development and the learning that occurs is largely dependent on the organization of these days and the topics presented. Often, these “sit and get” professional development presentations, that are done “to you” as opposed to done “with you,” miss their marks.
Teachers, like other professionals, require learning opportunities that are purposeful, build upon their mastery and allow for some autonomy in choice. Given that, a new form of professional learning for teachers and administrators has emerged and is sweeping North America. Known as, “Edcamp,” this ‘UN-conference’ is free, educator driven and flexible to the needs of the participants. This short video clip provides an excellent description of the Edcamp format.
Likeminded and passionate educators come together in this innovative model to discuss their instructional practice. Upon arrival, educators suggest and sign up for sessions of their own choosing. There are no formal presentations, only educators engaging in professional dialogue. Through these conversations, educators both contribute and gain knowledge in areas of most interest, always focusing on the importance of student learning. The power of the experience resides in the participants who come together, collaborate on ideas, brainstorm solutions and share innovative practices. According to the Edcamp founder, Kristen Swanson, the ultimate goal of Edcamp is, “to provide space for teachers to learn from each other. They give everyone a voice and a forum to explore new ideas and strategies.”
The Edcamp version for Lethbridge and area, called “Lethcamp,” will be hosted by the University of Lethbridge on Saturday, January 25th. This is the first time the Edcamp experience has been offered in Alberta, south of Calgary, and the organizers (all educators from local school divisions and the University) are excited for this inaugural event. The learning opportunity offered at Lethcamp is not one that should be missed by local educators. For more information, and to register, check out the link.