I knew the day would be over before it even began. I was right. I assumed I wouldn’t have day-after regrets, but knew I had to do it, in order to know for sure.
The night before – the whole week before – I was a bundle of excited nerves, ready to launch in real-time what had been six months of planning – six months that today, looking backwards, feels more like a lifetime. But in fact, the concept of edcamp was totally foreign to me one year ago and the term JEDCamp had not yet been coined. Fast forward twelve months and a whole lot has changed.
There is nothing novel about sharing knowledge, learning from others, interpersonal connecting or reflecting on ideas in a group. And yet the combined power of learning, sharing, connecting and reflecting among educators is so singularly creative that each occurrence is a uniquely new experience.
How do I know? After 3.5 years there have been more than 300 unique edcamps that have officially linked to the Edcamp Foundation wikispace. Edcamps are constantly popping up in new communities; communities that have hosted edcamp are hosting 2nd and 3rd edcamp events; offshoots of edcamp are happening – like JEDCamp and edcampONLINE.
So powerful is it, that Arne Duncan launched the first online Connected Educator initiative in August 2012, and in support of President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology announced October 2013 as Connected Educator Month.
So if this many people have already attended and written about it as something new and exciting, I wonder why the Jewish education community has taken this long to adopt the edcamp model? Why write yet another blog post describing an event that many others have written about?
JEDCampSFBay was the 340th edcamp to happen. Not so outstanding, right? But it was only the 4th ever JEDCamp and the 1st on the west coast! And one of the founders of EdCamp was there, along with 60 other educators. It was her first JEDCamp. My second. I participated in JEDCampNJNY in April 2013 and was so inspired by the experience that I set out to create JEDCampSFBay. “See one, do one, teach one” may or may not be the best learning model for medical students, but it is the route I am following, and if the power of four in other things Jewish has any import (for example) – the 4th JEDCamp might just be a big deal.
But four does not a deep impact make, not in the Jewish education world and not in the world of lifelong Jewish living, learning and connecting. 40? 400? I don’t KNOW what the magic number is – the tipping point between flash in the pan and m’dor l’dor, but I know my next step is to plan another JEDCampSFBay *and* find a new Jewish community to work with and help them realize their own eduAWESOME day.
JEDCamp isn’t about keynote speakers, it’s about harnessing and sharing the collective expertise among the people in the room. JEDCamp is about taking ownership of our learning and professional development and doing it in ways that cross discipline and subject area lines helping us grow our personal and professional learning networks – so that we advance the learning and the education experience for ourselves and our students. M’dor l’dor.
There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain, so how can we leverage this awesome power? Hmm, maybe that’s a topic for the session board at the next JEDCamp!
Stay tuned for JEDCampNEXT! Have an idea? Talk to me.
In the post-event survey we asked, What was your favorite part of the day and Why?
- The sessions. It is refreshing to attend a conference that really understands and acknowledges our expertise as teachers. By opening the sessions to everyone to share, great questions and information was shared.
- It was good to meet new people and take time to have conversations that we don’t always have time to have.
- Meeting with other educators and being able to lead our own discussions in the appropriate groups helped with a lot of new leads for planning my lessons.
- I loved being able to get into groups with like-minded individuals and discuss challenging issues, as well as share ideas. The facilitation of the event was really strong and the people there were really committed and talented.
- The fact that the basis of the sessions was to foster an exchange of ideas and experiences was what made the day worthwhile. Rarely do workshops devote enough time to this dynamic.
- Teacher-led seminars provided a contrast of new and old challenges. I learned a lot about new classroom technology counterbalanced by the age-old dilemmas of teaching in a Jewish school.
- There is so much “noise” around best practices in schools. JEDCampSFBay provided a forum to sort out the ideas that are working well in real classrooms from those that are not. The absolutely democratic nature of the program is inspiring.
- Sharing my Sunday with other motivated and engaged colleagues in Jewish Education who all volunteered their time to attend JEDCAMP was a treat. The quality of conversations and interactions reflected a wonderful group of talented and thoughtful educational innovators
- Collaboration at it’s best.
- Spending time talking with other Jewish educators, sharing ideas and experiences on focused topics was invaluable. Too many times I feel “talked at” by experts without a real sense of what it is like in our classrooms.
- A day of: unexpected wealth of inspiration and interaction between educational colleagues, so much diversity and commonality among Jewish educators and fantastic conversations. I came not sure how long I would stay, but didn’t want it to be over at the end!
- Hearing how other schools work on solving the same questions/problems/issues/opportunities that come up at my school
- I love how ed/jedcamp values teachers, sharing, collaboration, and community building. This was a powerful pd experience and I can’t wait to share some of the things I learned about with other teachers!