Today was an exciting day for the Edcamp Foundation and for edcampers all over the US. At around 7:00 am, a small group of educators walked across C Street and entered the Department of Education for a day of sharing and learning at Edcamp US DOE.
After 4 years and thousands of hours of free, participant-driven professional development across the globe, Edcamp entered the halls that drive education policy in the US. After building the schedule and chatting with new and old acquaintances, along with a surprise visit from Arne Duncan, we moved right into sessions. The topics ranged from policy discussions to discussions about teaching and learning in the classroom to discussions about being digital leaders and connected educators. Members of the DOE were scattered throughout the sessions, listening and asking questions. Even through some tough policy conversations, there was no animosity and the tone of the conversation always remained civil and professional, and thanks to teacher ambassador and host, Emily Davis, and the positive and professional attendees and DOE members, conversations also stayed solutions-oriented and focused on action.
If anything comes of today’s gathering of great minds and ideas, I hope that the Department of Education sees the power of organic conversation among educators as well as the many faces of teacher leadership within individual school buildings, districts and beyond. I hope that more events like this happen at the DOE and that policy makers see value in bringing educators together to discuss education policies and larger issues in education here in the US. If anything, creating open lines of communication and pathways for matching policies with the needs in classrooms on the front lines of teaching and learning could be a powerful beginning to a new age in educational policy in our country.
It is inspiring to think that only 4 years ago, ten educators, many of whom had never met face to face before, convened at BarCamp Philly, were inspired to create Edcamp Philly, and ignited a movement that has grown exponentially every year and has reached as far as Hong Kong and Dubai.
We are so grateful to the Department of Education, Richard Culatta from the Department of Educational Technology, and, of course, our gracious host, Emily Davis, for a powerful day of conversation and a positive and solutions-centered atmosphere focused on teacher voice.