I recently attended the annual ISTE conference in San Diego to participate on a panel about new teacher mentoring using technology moderated by my colleague, Lisa Dabbs. As I considered my responses to some of the panelist questions, I remembered a conversation I had at the Sunday night networking event for the conference with a new teacher who gushed about her experience at an edcamp. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the event and talking with so many people I can’t seem to pull the name of the edcamp from my memory. She spoke about the amazing conversations and dialogue that she experienced. As I reflected on the conversation, I thought about how powerful an edcamp can be for a new teacher. When I think back to my first few years of teaching, I remember feeling nervous about asking questions, about appearing like I didn’t know what I was doing, about understanding exactly what it was I supposed to be teaching and how best to do it. I never had a new teacher coach, I’ve never had a mentor. If I could have attended an event like an edcamp and listened to veteran teachers ask questions, discuss pedagogy and openly admit that they are struggling, I think that my first few years would have been a lot easier. On top of these conversations, I would have been able to build a network that could have served as my mentor or my coach when I didn’t have one.
There have been a few New Teacher Camps specifically for new teachers. However, I’m not sure it’s completely necessary for events to be specifically created just for new teachers. If each of us who have experienced edcamp to recruit at least one new teacher to bring with us to the next edcamp we attend, we can bring the edcamp experience to new teachers. The more new teachers who can be exposed to professional conversations, learn how to ask questions and share ideas with their peers and build a positive network for personal growth, the more new teachers that will feel successful and the more new teachers who will stay in the career they have chosen and be the best they can be for their students.
Make your mission for your next edcamp to “bring a new teacher to edcamp!”