I have a love/hate relationship with professional development. I like getting better at teaching. I like hearing from people who are smarter and/or more experienced than I am. Unfortunately, my experience with "official" school-district provided professional development is too often...um...less than stellar.
This less than stellar PD is one of the main reasons Twitter has been an amazing resource. It allows my professional development to be self-directed: focusing on what I want help with when I want help with it. As great as the Twitter was (and continues to be) for this, I missed the face-to-face interactions that can't happen over the Twitter.
Fortunately, EdCamp is a thing. It combines the just-in-time, self-directed professional development I enjoy from Twitter with the great face-to-face conversations I value so much from traditional professional development. It also happens to be free (which is a bonus, because it's worth my hard-earned money).
What makes EdCamp different?
Well, quite a lot, actually.
- It's democratic. At the beginning of the day the participants propose sessions and design the schedule for the day.
- It's participatory. Sessions at EdCamps are encouraged to be conversations between the session leaders and participants. No hour long terrible comic-sans slide decks with one person droning on. I promise.
- It's organized and run entirely by volunteer educators. Sure there are sponsors to help pay for lunch, prizes, and so on, but there's no exhibitor hall with salespeople hawking their wares or sessions that are just sales pitches. In fact, if such a sales-pitch session did happen you would be encouraged to...
- ...vote with your feet. If you find yourself in a session that just isn't the topic you had hoped it would be, you can leave. It's not just okay to walk out, it's encouraged. We don't want you to waste your time sitting through a session you don't find applicable to your needs. In fact, you can wander in and out as you please. Or skip a session if you simply need time to organize your thoughts or even take a break.
If you're free August 10, 2012 and in the New England region, you should attend EdCamp CT. It'll be a great day of professional development with passionate educators from all over the region1. You can register for EdCamp CT here. I hope to see you there!