All this…and lunch!

It’s always a good day when teachers come together to talk about education. It’s an even better day when those teachers get to drive the focus, the content, and the conversation. And it’s a great day when all of this is accompanied by a BBQ lunch!

 

Colorado teacher and member of CTQ-CO Jennifer Henderson writes about her experience at the CTQ-CO EdCamp, an “un-conference” held on March 5, 2016, that featured teacher leaders sharing their work on culturally responsive teaching, design thinking, National Board certification, and micro-credentials.

It’s always a good day when teachers come together to talk about education. It’s an even better day when those teachers get to drive the focus, the content, and the conversation. And it’s a great day when all of this is accompanied by a BBQ lunch!

This spring, CTQ-Colorado hosted an EdCamp in Aurora, CO, open to educators from all over the state and even from neighboring New Mexico. We began by getting to know one another and setting up the topics for our EdCamp. This “un-conference” design allows educators to set the agenda, deciding which topics are most pressing and relevant to them. With topics such as “Global Education/Bilingualism” and “Performance Based Learning”, educators become both the experts and the learners.

One of the most powerful sessions included three engaging topics around culturally responsive teaching.  Participants dove into discussions around what CRT looks like in our classrooms, how we can better support the amazing students we have in front of us each day, and how we can use current media as instructional tools. Edu-blogger Jozette Martinez led a fascinating discussion around the film The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution produced by the Ford Foundation. Educators discussed how this insightful documentary might be a powerful addition to curriculum, and how teachers can get started sharing ideas and insights through blogging.

To conclude our EdCamp, we organized three sessions focused on educators’ individual struggles. Using a Design Thinking model, we got to the heart of the issues and generated mounds of sticky-note ideas. In our busy day-to-day schedules, we rarely get the opportunity to address our struggles in a positive and effective manner. Not only did we do this, but we then had the opportunity to work with others to brainstorm and come up with the most effective and viable solutions. The Design Thinking process facilitates this, and it is a great way for individuals and groups to creatively solve our most pressing struggles. From these rough ideas came some very possible solutions – things that we could take home and try on immediately. One educator left with a plan to re-imagine her current role, possibly presenting to her school an idea for a hybrid position that would allow her to become a policy and educational liaison. Another group mapped out a path for social justice blogging.

It’s a powerful thing when people come together who are passionate about education, about learning, and about creating a place that is magical for our students. This opportunity, and more like it, should be readily available to all educators. Thanks to CTQ-CO for realizing the knowledge and expertise that already resides in our educators and for honoring that in the form of an EdCamp!