Yesterday I attended EdCamp35 in Langley. Now I have attended a few EdCamps and I love the format. I love that everyone comes in so excited to make connections, to learn and to share. I love meeting people that I only previously have chatted with online. I love that that EdCamps recognize that there are many “experts” and we all can learn from each other. I love that I always leave with my beliefs challenged and a heavier tool belt of strategies.
This EdCamp, though, was a little different from the ones that I have attended before. This time I asked my good friend Jenn, an active Langley parent, to come with me. I thought she may get something out of it, but I have to admit I was nervous that it may be too focused on teachers. I assured her (and myself!) that I would put my parent hat on, parents were being encouraged to come and there would be sessions that she would be interested in because we could suggest sessions.
Well, as the board started to fill up with session ideas, my fears were coming true… there was nothing Jenn was really interested in going to. So, we put up one suggestion and stepped back. After about ten minutes, there were a few more that we felt we would like to attend.
I have to give credit to the organizers of EdCamp 35. They went out of their way to invite stakeholders from all areas of education, including parents. This was the best EdCamp I have attended because of this. However, I still feel like there is more room for growth. It was really eye opening to attend the event as a parent and have a parent right next to me. The whole experience was definitely intimidating.
The teachers who attend EdCamps are a very passionate bunch. They give up a Saturday to attend, that alone says a lot! It’s really beneficial for parents to see this passion. EdCamps also are a great way to create deeper home-school connections and inform parents about what is going on in schools, but it is also a great format to open up the stage for parents to voice their concerns and thoughts about school.
The one session that Jenn and I put up, Childhood Anxiety ended up turning out great. There were many parents and teachers sharing their stories of successes and concerns and it made the discussion quite robust.
So, future organizers of EdCamps how will you encourage deeper connections and engagement of parents? As with many strategies and events that try to encourage more parent involvement, there is potential with EdCamps, but more work needs to be done than just “inviting” parents.
Some things to think about:
- Offer a ParentCamp in your district with facilitators to allow parents to get used to the format of an EdCamp.
- Offer childcare, call it KidsCamp!
- When asking for ideas for sessions in your registration page, have these sessions already posted on the board. Many people, not just parents, would be nervous about jumping into the bustle to add sessions.
- If you are an experienced EdCamper, invite some parents and stick by them until they get their bearings.
Each EdCamp that I attend gets better and better. Thank you EdCamp35 for another amazing experience.