Guest Post by Isaiah Olsen: How EdCamp Changed My Trajectory

I have been in education for 16 years and the last two years have been extraordinary.  Two years ago I applied for a TOSA position for Educational Technology.  This position seemed like a natural fit for me as I have always been an early adopter when it came to technology and was often asked to help facilitate professional development at my school site.  I’ve always enjoyed helping other teachers learn how to use new technologies to help their students, but I really had no idea what my position would look like on a district level or where to begin.  Most of all, I had no idea what I was missing as far as my own professional growth and learning.  This shift began when I attended my first EdCamp.

First off EdCamp is about connecting people and good ideas.   EdCamp’s Mission: “To build and support communities of empowered educators by promoting free, participant-driven, un-conferences to maximize personalized professional learning experiences and peer networks.”  

I had no idea what an EdCamp was and a colleague of mine who happens to be a TOSA in another district invited me to participate in an EdCamp specifically designed for instructional coaches.  It was called EdCamp SplashThat, hosted by Irvine Unified and was billed as “THE FIRST SOCAL EDCAMP DEDICATED TO INSTRUCTIONAL COACHES, TOSAs, & CURRICULUM SPECIALISTS.”

Right away, I was able to connect with like-minded educators who had also woken up very early on a Saturday morning to come together and share ideas, collaborate, and talk about issues that mattered to them regarding education.  It was an amazing learning experience.  There I met some leaders in educational technology and people who have mentored me.  I still rely on these  folks for their expertise and advice.

My biggest take-away was how educators were continuing their sharing, collaboration & communication by staying connected through Twitter.  I had been on Twitter for years, but never supposed educators were using it.  I thought Twitter was only for famous people.  I now have access to 24 hour/ 7 days a week professional development thanks to Twitter.

EdCamp has changed my trajectory because I realized how important continued professional development and learning is so important to being a leader in education.  It is also so inspiring to connect and learn from like minded educators.  Please don’t pass up the opportunity to attend one of these events.  

“If leaders want people to try new things, they have to openly show that they are willing to do the same.”

George Couros

Tenets of EdCamp:

  • Free to all attendees. This helps ensure that different types of teachers and educational stakeholders can attend.
  • Hosted by anyone. School districts, educational stakeholders and teams of teachers can host EdCamps.
  • Participant-driven. Sessions are determined the morning of the event, and there are no prescheduled presentations or keynotes. The goal is to keep sessions spontaneous, interactive and responsive to everyone’s needs.
  • Open to anyone who wants to present. All teachers and education stakeholders are professionals worthy of sharing their expertise in a collaborative setting.
  • Reliant on the law of two feet. Participants are encouraged to actively self-select the best content and sessions. EdCampers should leave sessions that do not meet their needs. This provides an effective way of “weeding out” sessions that are not based on appropriate research or not delivered in an engaging format. Noncommercial and have a vendor-free presence. It is, after all, about learning, not selling.
Edtech EdCamp Smackdown

The Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) is sponsoring an Edtech Edcamp Smackdown on July 25, 2017, a fast-paced opportunity for sharing and networking. Participants volunteer to share a tech tool, teaching tip, lesson plan, or anything else they’d like to share with the group about dynamic teaching and learning with technology. (Registration Link)

Isaiah Olsen is an instructional coach for technology at Inglewood Unified School District, considers himself a dendrite developer, and is active in musical theater with his family. His Twitter handle is @isaiaholsen_edu.

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