• Sara Needleman

EdCamp in Western Maine!

EdCamp?! Maybe you’re saying, “I love EdCamp,” or maybe you’re asking, “What IS EdCamp?,” or maybe you’re wondering how the western region of our sparsely populated state managed to pull off its own event called EdCamp and make it a smashing success. Here’s how.

A handful of really motivated, not to mention seriously dynamic and inspiring teachers hatched the idea that if EdCamp could work in other parts of the state and country, it could work at Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, Maine. They were right.

EdCamp is essentially a day-long gathering of educator-chosen and educator-led professional development. It includes all the great perks of networking, sharing ideas, and learning new ideas to bring back to your school or classroom. It does that all for free, and it does it built on a model that trusts that educators know what we need and want and that we have the resources among us to deliver.

So on February 7th, about 80 educators gathered for the first ever EdCampWME. JumpRope shared in the good fortune of sponsoring the day along with several other largely Maine-based organizations. At least nine school districts were represented and they were joined by pre-service teachers and faculty from the University of Maine at Farmington.

It’s impossible to name the best part of the day because the whole event was inspiring, and so I’ll just give you a few highlights.

  1. In true EdCamp style, we all gathered shortly after arrival to collaboratively construct the schedule. While Dan Ryder told jokes and encouraged us all to come hear him (and Jeff Bailey) perform that evening - they are the Teachers Lounge Mafia - Becca Redman and Jen Michaelis posted our session choices. (Sorry, Dan and Jeff, I didn’t stick around for the show!) The sessions we created ranged from book talks to Funding Your Classroom with Donors Choose to Proficiency-Based Diplomas.

  2. The food we ate that day, including the delicious lentil soup (I’m a vegetarian and always grateful when I’m fed this well), was all provided by students and staff of the Foster Regional Applied Technology Center culinary arts program.

  3. It was a great melting pot of pre-service teachers (some of whom were former students of the event organizers), teachers, administrators, and teacher educators all learning from one another. There was no single “professional” to offer development. The development was inspired and delivered by the folks who chose to spend their Saturday honing their teaching practice.

Five years into the EdCamp movement, I feel a bit late to the game as this was my first EdCamp. But it won’t be my last because it was one of those very rare days where every conversation I had was worth my time. For those of you who live in Maine, you can check out the next EdCamp Maine on March 7th. And for those of you inspired to look around in your own home states for an EdCamp or to get one going yourself, look here.

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