Sunday, February 7, 2016

EdCampSTL, the Granddaddy of Them All

The EdCamp movement is global. These PD days are popping up all over the world. EdCamp is a relatively new way of delivering relevant, quality educational professional development. While there is a national EdCamp organization,, each individual EdCamp is a grassroots effort put on by a group of committed educators.

In St. Louis, EdCampSTL started five years ago. A few area educators, including Chris McGee @cmcgee200, Bob Dillon @ideaguy42, Rob Lamb @lambchop1998, and Patrick Dempsey @midscoolsci started building this PD organization into the largest EdCamp in the world. Literally. I attended EdCampSTL a few years ago for the first time. I was blown away by how many teachers were invested in their own professional development. These were teachers who gave up their Saturday to learn and become better teachers. These were the kind of teachers I wanted to be around. Immediately, my teaching partner, Melissa Hellwig @melissahellwig4, and I asked to join the EdCampSTL planning committee. We wanted to do anything we could to help make this event even better.

This year, EdCampSTL was the best edcamp I've ever been to. Hadley Fegruson @hadleyjf, the head of the National EdCamp Foundation, even came! There were over 600 educators who came on Saturday to learn and share. These were educators who were not there to complain about their situation, their students or their school. They were there to learn, find solutions and share their learning. These teachers were all about growth and are the kind of educators who will continue to learn, grow and succeed. Melissa and I presented about our 20% Time program, but otherwise, we were there to help fellow teachers find sessions, solve logistic problems, make sure everyone was having a productive PD experience and networking to make sure that teachers who needed to see or learn from certain teachers, connected with those certain teachers. So many new professional relationships sprang from EdCampSTL yesterday and those relationships will be fostered during the rest of the school year and beyond.

The name of EdCampSTL's parent company, called Connected Learning STL, says it all. We are all connected and should be learning from each other all of the time. The hard work of those in this organization often goes underappreciated by the education community at large but for anyone who has attended one of these first-rate events, they know what quality professional development should and does look like. Hats off to Connected Learning STL and EdCampSTL, the granddaddy of them all.

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