Monday, September 15, 2014

The EdCamp Mindset - How An “Unconference” Can Yield An “Unclass”

Source: ASIDE, 2014
Perhaps only an EdCamp could inspire educators to dedicate a September Saturday to vigorous professional development. Despite the bustle of back-to-school work — and the ache to cling to summer's penultimate weekend — several hundred teachers and parents convened yesterday for the inaugural EdCamp Long Island event at the Willets Road School in Roslyn Heights, NY. 
Following the mold of the EdCamp movement, this “unconference” featured a roster of organically generated sessions. Rather than being tethered to a prefab schedule of speakers, participants at #EdCampLI could join conversations posted by like-minded souls on a wall-size chart of sticky note suggestions.

Not surprisingly, many of the workshops centered around technology. We were intrigued by Voxer in its combination of voice, text, and photos. We were also excited to try TodaysMeet as an easy backchannel for student questions and feedback. Our two favorite sessions, however, had little to do with edtech and everything to do with communication and leadership. 

Source: Voxer
The meeting about “Transformational Leadership In The 21st Century School" with Dr. Sheilah (@docsheilah) demonstrated a host of tried and true ideas built around the philosophy that just because it’s always been done one way, it doesn’t mean you can’t step back and rethink the purpose. Imagine faculty meetings where the administrators make their own simple “TED” style talks to promote discussions, or an a la carte menu of meeting topics from which teachers get to choose. This forward-thinking approach made it clear that in this type of school, the administrators model the concept of "lead learners."

The round-table discussion on “Fostering 2 Way School-Home Communication” gathered thoughtful teachers and parents who were genuinely motivated (and at times frustrated) in getting school constituencies on the same page. The small-group seminar was organized by principal Dennis Schug (@DJrSchug) of Hampton Bays, NY, and parent Gwen Pescatore (@gpescatore25) of Philadelphia, PA (and #PTchat). The unstructured confab yielded honest questions about the most efficient technologies for communication and the barriers to inclusivity in PTO meetings. There were also creative strategies to welcome non-English-speaking families and adults intimidated by social media.

Source: TodaysMeet
In fact, the day’s free-flowing learning made us realize that regular faculty meetings could be better structured like an EdCamp. They could involve authentic colloquies spawned from the bottom-up. They could welcome differentiated dialogues initiated by teachers themselves, rather than administrative decrees.

Even more, our classrooms could become miniature EdCamps. We could do more to solicit interest from the students themselves, to invite direction based on kids’ curiosities and passions. Our daily lessons could embrace the messy beginnings of finding a path and honing an objective. In the end, we would probably still nurture the same key skill sets. But we would reach our goals by letting the children themselves scribble post-it notes of wonder and glom onto subjects that matter not to us, but to them.

If you were unable to attend, here is the Google Doc of session notes from Saturday. Also, the hashtag #EdCampLI captured all of the lively exchanges and resources. Many thanks to the organizers who staged yesterday's event, and we look forward to EdCampLI 2.0 next year.


  1. Thanks for your recap and links. I'll refer to it from my website If I knew there were topic for parents, I would have attended.
    I am looking forward to ParentCamp, PA.

    1. Thank you for your comment and for referring to the post from your site. We appreciate it. We heard a lot about ParentCamp on Saturday from organizers and past participants, and it sounds like a terrific event with genuine sharing and collaboration.

  2. Edcamp really make some good move in the new coming society. All the one will need to change their history with good detailed study. If any one need good article please choose a better relaxed custom thesis writing service provider.

  3. I really love this post I will visit again to read your post in a very short time and I hope you will make more posts like this.


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