A conversation about education
Guest Blog by Steven Hurley
I've attended my fair share of professional development conferences over the course of my teaching career and, with few exceptions they have all been pretty similar in both design and effect.
Most have been built around a theme chosen by an organizing committee. Most have featured at least one known and validated keynote voice. A pre-determined slate of workshop offerings, a substantial lunch and a robust publisher's display are also very familiar features of traditional conferences. Oh, and coffee...lots of coffee!
It's a structure that has been in place for years and it’s a structure that most educators have come to expect when we choose to attend a conference. Until recently, that is...
There's a new kid on the block, one that's determined to change our perspective on what professional development looks like, sounds like, and, yes, even what it tastes like!
The EdCamp movement began in the spring of 2010 in Philadelphia, and over the past year other EdCamps have been organized around the U.S. This past spring, I flew to B.C. to be part of the excitement at EdCamp Vancouver, the first of these events to be held in Canada. I knew right away that this was something that I needed to help develop in the Toronto area.
The EdCamp model forces us to engage in some pretty fundamental questions about both the form and function of professional learning. One of the first questions that threatens to stare down anyone considering planning an EdCamp is "What's left?" Once you take away the expensive keynote, the fancy venue, the workshop leaders, the promise of lunch and coffee breaks, what do you have remaining?
It's a powerful question, but the answer, I've discovered, is even more powerful. In a sense, when you strip away all the "trappings" of the traditional professional development conference, you're really just left with one thing: the voices of the participants. And when you set out to create an environment where those voices are valued and given space, what you hear emerging the sound of creativity, passion, commitment and hope. You also realize that these are voices that are anxious to be heard and even more anxious to actively participate in the work of transforming education.
EdCamp Toronto is scheduled to take place on October 15th at York University and, whether you’re a parent, a teacher, an administrator or a community member, you’re invited. All you need to bring is a heart for public education, a question or topic that is on your mind, and a willingness to participate in the conversation.
EdCamp Toronto is participant-driven and the agenda for the day is set once people arrive and begin to talk about and listen to the questions that are brought.
You’re invited to take a closer look at the EdCamp Toronto website (http://www.edcampto.org) and if what you see there piques your interest, register for one of the 300 available spaces.
You probably have some questions; don’t hesitate to get in touch with me through this post, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to meeting you on October 15th!