Edcamps – Not Just For Teachers

This last weekend I attended EdcampIowa in Ankeny, IA.  This was one of the 4 (was supposed to be 5 but there was not enough interest at one site) sites across the state to make up what has to be the largest Edcamp (if you combine all of the participants).  There were some great discussions both at our Edcamp location and online using the hashtag in Twitter.  This is just a great time for teachers to come together to have discussions and learn from each other in a more relaxed setting, without the interference by vendors or Powerpoint slides.  (seriously, if you prepare a slide deck for an Edcamp, you may not fully understand what an Edcamp is supposed to be about)

This Edcamp, like the previous ones I have attended, was attended by more than just teachers.  We had both student teachers from the local colleges, administrators, and even students all joining in on the conversations and helping to lead them even.  I think it is awesome when we can have so many different voices together to help in making our conversations and learnings that much more effective.  The other voices that we can add into the discussion can really help us get a clearer picture of the situation so that we can really enact true change and improvement.  Teachers can not just have conversations with other teachers, there are many others involved in the educational process and we need to include all of them.

Unfortunately, we still do not see many inclusion of non-teachers at Edcamps.  While we do see some, there are not enough to really help us make any change outside of a single classroom.  We do get some administrators at these events, but not enough.  We get some student teachers, but many do not even know what an Edcamp is.  We get some students but unfortunately many students may not think their voice will be heard.  And I have yet to see, if I have it was only a very small few, college professors in the education colleges attend these events.  Edcamps are becoming a major component of the learning and growth by teachers yet we do not see those connections with colleges.  We should not have to have a mountain of research in order to get some college instructors and professors to attend these great learning opportunities.

My idea is to have an Edcamp in Ames, IA where we make sure we pull in people from every area.  We get teachers there, we get students there, we get administrators, we get college students, and we get those professors to attend.  We could even try to get parents and state politicians involved but we do need a chance to have an opportunity for these learning events to occur with all parties involved.  The key is to remember that we are here to learn and grow, that our conversations can not turn into battles or stalemates.  We must be there to learn and work together to improve education for all students.  What do you say, do you think this will work?

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