“Changes come from the power of many, but only when the many come together to form that which is invincible… the power of one.” – Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One
Educators are a resourceful bunch. Despite the evergreen challenges to the teaching profession—most recently exacerbated by a global pandemic and the trauma and tragedy of another mass school shooting—educators still show up and find ways to engage, meet the needs of their students, and provide powerful learning experiences that contribute to the well-being and development of the next generation.
Whether it’s purchasing classroom supplies out of their own pockets, exceeding work hours to complete mandated paperwork, implementing safety protocols for school invasions, or going above and beyond to engage families, educators find a way to get everything done—even while trying to maintain their own health, well-being, and sanity! Understandably, many educators are leaving the classroom for less stressful work environments. Others are holding it together, more determined than ever to address the systemic changes needed to improve the education system, meet the needs of learners, and maintain the quality of their profession.
Recently, I attended the ISTE conference in New Orleans. Overwhelmed by tens of thousands of educators looking to connect, learn, and find inspiration to continue their calling, the positive energy was palpable. I watched in awe as educators greeted one another with open arms, laughter, and tears. I heard howls of excitement as they reunited with one another—for some, since last year’s conference, for others, longer. Standing in that convention center, I realized that fundamentally what every educator needs most is to feel heard, to be respected and validated, and to find their support network.
My ISTE experience evoked a renewed sense of honor in my role as leader of the Edcamp Community by Digital Promise, where we grow and sustain a community of educators using Edcamp’s participant-driven model to give educators voice and choice in their ongoing learning. Our work is to support and elevate educators in their pursuits to find and create their support networks. Our mission is to listen to educators, to validate their feelings, and to provide space for sharing and learning.
When a group of educators in Philadelphia got together in 2010 to commiserate about their district’s stale PD offerings, I’m pretty sure they never anticipated that their brainchild — Edcamp—would grow and evolve to reach more than 300,000 educators, in all 50 states, and in 46 countries around the world. They probably never envisioned that 1,800 educators would volunteer to organize and host Edcamps in their local communities of practice. And they certainly never would have imagined that during a global pandemic when school doors were shuttered worldwide, Edcamp would so easily be replicated online to create virtual spaces for educators to connect.
According to Hadley Ferguson, Edcamp co-founder and former executive director of the Edcamp Foundation, “The magic of Edcamp is the educators who bring it to life —the ones who understand that connection is essential to growth. When educators come together at Edcamp, they are seen as professionals and provided space to tap into their personal and professional experiences. They are encouraged to share their stories. They are given autonomy in their learning. And, most significantly, they are building support networks that will continue to promote them as professionals.”
The Edcamp Community by Digital Promise shares information and resources, promotes best practices, and connects educators for ongoing support and feedback. Through in-person and virtual Edcamps, volunteer organizers gather peer educators in community, creating a shared space where common values and collective accountability steward their desires for uniting together to form that which is truly invincible: one powerful network!
Find a local Edcamp in your community, reach out to the organizers, and get involved! If you can’t find one, consider organizing one. Any educator can organize an Edcamp, all educators have the potential to be the one to make it happen. There’s never been a more relevant time for educators to come together through Edcamp.
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