I love EdCamps. Today I attended #EdCampSEMN at Austin High School in Austin, Minnesota, the home of Hormel and SPAM. And, if that’s not reason enough to attend, the beautiful drive down from the Twin Cities through rolling hills and gorgeous farmland, reconnecting with other educators, making new friends, and strengthening my skills and knowledge so I can be a better principal, were all great reasons to attend this EdCamp.
While I was there, and when I’ve been at other EdCamps, I’ve has a similar thought, Why aren’t more Principals attending EdCamps? I have identified three reasons I believe that happens and try to dispel the myths around those.
Myth #1 – EdCamps are for teachers. Yes, they are, but they’re also for principals, parents, future educators, Superintendents, technology directors, curriculum leaders, anyone who has a connection with students and schools. I have learned so much from attending EdCamps and count robotics, coding, programming, drones, video messaging, Teach Like A Pirate, genius hour, makerspace, Flipgrid, and augmented reality among practices I have implemented and continue to use as a principal.
Myth #2 – I’m not a techie. I think there is a common misunderstanding that EdCamps are all about apps and programs and robotics and devices and using and integrating technology. That’s not true. Any topic is up for learning, sharing, and facilitating at EdCamps. In fact, two of the sessions I attended today, one I volunteered to facilitate, were about non-technology topics: managing student behavior and flexible learning spaces.
Myth #3 – I’m too busy, there’s nothing of value for me. That is so wrong! It is true that you get out what you put into an EdCamp. If you make connections, share ideas, suggest things you want to learn about, and have an open mind, there will be value for you. One of the great ideas I received today happened during a lunch conversation with a high school English teacher from Iowa. He talked about how his district was implementing professional development this coming year in which pd goals were determined by each educator. They will create a plan for their learning, document their progress, and share their results. I was intrigued by that concept and left with contact names, website information, and Twitter handles. And, that learning took place outside of the scheduled sessions while eating barbecue.
Principals, you need to find and attend EdCamps in your area. If there aren’t any, step up to help organize one. I’ve taken the EdCamp model of professional development back to two different school staffs and having our own, smaller EdCamp professional development day was very well received. So, dispel those myths, model for your teachers, and engage in great learning at EdCamps. Plus you may get to see beautiful scenery and reconnect with great friends.