I attended my first Edcamp down in Bozeman Montana a few years ago. It was a neat experience. Teachers gathering together to share their ideas on topics of their choice with the ideas being driven by the teachers, I know we all know what an Edcamp is. I came back to my division and for our divisional PD we did a few staff driven Edcamps that I was able to plan and the feedback was pretty good. Teachers came away with some learning but it was a very limited experience in that we were only drawing on our own School Divisions talents. I wanted to expand. I started to play with the idea of bring teachers from my area not just division together to talk about literacy. We would gather together for a day or two, maybe...fingers crossed book a great Keynote and then have sessions driven by our experience and excitement. One thing I did notice right away is that the field of potential speakers was not diverse. I do not live in an incredibly diverse area and I think when we look at statistics in teacher representation you could probably move it even a few more points away from diversity looking at our numbers. Small mostly rural farming communities don't tend to have diverse populations. Still it made me uncomfortable looking at the idea of running some kind of teacher PD with just white teachers but that is who was responding with interest and again because I was limited to local (free and no money to pay large speakers) there was not much I could do.
This year the potential to partner with a PD consortium may have opened the door to enlisting a few more speakers from outside our community. I was excited about the prospect. I was going to be able to introduce my local colleagues to the experts I learn from now and maybe even bring some in. The dream was potentially becoming a reality and then COVID-19 ruined everything. My dreams of our school theatre packed listening to an amazing literacy leader and then breaking into small groups to learn from each other dashed by travel restrictions, group gathering limits and Social Distancing. But then I started seeing digital conferences pop up.
I attended a fantastic learning experience but on called Liberate and Chill I was able to learn from amazing educators from both the IBPOC and LGTBQ community on a variety of topics, The structure was so well organized, presenters posted video modules there were chat boards for discussion, learning materials available for down load. It really was an amazing event put on by brilliant educators. During this same time the Educator Collaborative put on its annual free event. A series of Webinars that are focused on literacy work that span the course of a day and teachers can jump in to whichever they sign up for. The discussions occur on Twitter as people view the material. Two different methods of delivering amazing content and both were inclusive of all communities unlike other online courses and events that are popping up at this time.
So this leaves me wondering. Is this a time to say ok the dream of hosting a great PD session in literacy in my area is over or is it time to dream bigger. A digital conference that provides the opportunity for educators to share their knowledge and learning with others with both local teachers and some featured speakers, teachers who just want to share their messages on literacy practice? I have never been a big dreamer but perhaps this is the time.
You test the waters and see. Can we organize something that celebrates the diverse community that literacy instruction really is? Can we introduce new voices? Can we celebrate established ones? Can we honour the voices of all those doing the work?
In my dream we can...
I have included a link to a google form. This information would not go beyond me but I would like to collect info on who might be interested in something like this and also who might be interested in a planning role, presenting role (w/topic) or attending role. If you have time please take a moment and fill it out.
For form click here