It Was About Time… EdCamp for Elementary School Principals

May 27, 2015 was a big day for professional learning for principals as part of the Elementary School Principals’ Association in Calgary. Much of the feedback that comes back from our ESPA colleagues is always how important time is for discussion, collaboration, exploration, teamwork and cooperation for our work as principals. We never have enough time with our colleagues…

Utilizing an “EdCamp” model, on May 27th we took the time to engage in intentional and purposeful discussion about emerging and essential topics and issues to our work as leaders of learning within our schools. An EdCamp is often called an “Unconference,” as it is not about “experts” and PowerPoints… It is about principals coming together and taking the time to collaborate and think together.

The ESPA EdCamp gave us the opportunity to learn from our colleagues as well as share our own talents and expertise. It was about the facilitation of professional conversations rather than PowerPoint presentations, providing a vehicle for our own individual learning and needs, and offers a great deal of talk time and reflection time.

EdCamp was about giving ourselves the TIME to think, question, discuss, engage, share, support, coach, learn, inquire, reflect and immerse ourselves in our deep work with our colleagues.

Our EdCamp sessions explored best practices in certain areas, shared ideas for improvement, and allowed us to discuss topics regarding transforming education to what we would like it to be.

  1. Voice and Choice – The goal was to enable all Principals to have a voice in the great work going on in their schools, not having one “expert” presenting a lovely PowerPoint. Principals connected with issues that were important and needed to them with colleagues that wanted to “get in the mud” with the same issue.
  2. Time for Professional Conversation and Collegiality – We have all sat in long sessions that did not go where we needed them to go. As an EdCamp is meant to be discussion-based, Principals could “choose with their feet” and make the day work for them, rather than have to conform to the conference format and sit quietly…
  3. Critical and Creative Thinking – As Principals, I am assuming we are all excellent learners and thinkers, but I know I do my best thinking in the company of others through discussion and “getting in the mud” with an issue. Hearing the thoughts of my colleagues pushed me further than I could go on my own…
  4. Problem Solving around Real Issues – EdCamp was not about someone sharing a project they did or hearing about research that may not be valuable for our own context and situation. Principals identified topics, chose topics online beforehand they were interested in, and then were able to participate in EdCamp sessions that were important to them. The sessions we engaged in are listed below, but these were all self-identified by the 115 member Principals of ESPA.
  5. Connecting Learning with Peers at Other School Buildings (physical and digital) – We know being a Principal can be a lonely job, as we just do not have the amount of time or opportunity to connect with other Principals in ways that meet our own needs. Today we had a whole day of connecting face-to-face, but we also used Google Docs to document our sharing and conversations so that if I could not be part of a specific discussion, I could still connect with the results. All of our members will have access to these docs after the day is done and gone.

It was an amazing opportunity to connect in meaningful ways with our principal colleagues.  We all took home new and innovative ideas.  It was very positive and allowed us to take the time we needed to connect, converse, discuss, share and learn. And to paraphrase George Couros, it was professional learning way beyond breakfast being the best part of the day…

Work hard, learn tons!

D

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One Response to It Was About Time… EdCamp for Elementary School Principals

  1. Mike MacKenzie says:

    Sounds like an outstanding learning opportunity! It’s all about learning together. Working together with good people.

    Thanks for this!

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