Innovation Series: #EdCampKC brought the HEAT with @EdCampUSA !!!

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I went to #edcampKC at St. Teresa’s Academy this past weekend. For those of you unfamiliar, EdCamps are teacher driven professional development experiences that typically occur on Saturdays. Essentially, teachers get together, determine what they want to talk about, and learn from one another in these informal half day or full day events. You can learn more about Edcamps here. I have spent the better part of this year as a weekend warrior traveling to EdCamps across the country and connecting with teachers in as many states as I can. Looking back, I think that I set out to prove that my classroom experience wasn’t unique and that no matter the setting, we are all bringing our best in the service of children each day. What excites me about the Edcamp I attended here in Kansas City is that it affirms what I already believed to be true. Our classroom issues are universal and now we are finally ready to start dissecting them together.

This weekend, #edcampKC had sessions that centered around Inclusion and get this, it was led by a school principal! They also had teacher led sessions on digital citizenship, maximizing free GOOGLE resources, and pushing students to think deeply about their work through reflection and passion projects. It was unlike any EdCamp experience that I have had to date. What makes the sessions offered so special is that they venture into what can sometimes feel like uncomfortable territory. It can be difficult to examine personal bias. It can feel intimidating to release control of the learning experience back to students. It can certainly feel overwhelming to learn new technology skills after several years in the classroom without them. That willingness to go where other teachers have shied away is what makes #edcampKC special in my opinion. Kansas City is currently having tough conversations about inclusion, access, and education at the city government level. I believe that real change will occur because for the first time in my education career policymakers and teachers are aligned and that my friends is a minor miracle.

To top off the experience, the EdcampUSA foundation board showed up! How often does that happen? Board members had lunch with members of the #edcampKC planning committee and invited other voices (including mine) into the conversation as well. It turns out that EdCamp is looking to continue the work of supporting teacher development and they are open to new ideas on how to do so. I hope they connect with the Nerdcamp movement so that teachers can use EdCamp as a jump off point for their own PD affinity groups. If EdCamp is about teachers having choice in their PD why not provide different options for camp styles as well? Needless to say #edcampKC was one for the books. If you haven’t been, hopefully I will see you there next time! I hear they are having another one Spring 2019.

To keep your fire lit this week, I am sharing a teacher interview from #EdcampKC. Teaching is a team sport and we can’t get better if we don’t learn together.

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If you are reading this blog it is because you are the kind of teacher that I was, dedicated to your students and looking for resources to improve your practice. Be sure to subscribe to the blog and podcast. I have a few new things coming for subscribers very soon! Until then, keep your professional fire burning bright as you do the work  and remember why you joined this profession! We are partners and we will make a difference together.

~ Dr. Kia