North Alabama educators control the dialogue at EdCamp

MADISON — Saturday is normally a day off, but teachers returned to classrooms on Feb. 2 for North Alabama’s first EdCamp, hosted by James Clemens High School.
(CONTRIBUTED)

Staff members with the Alabama Department of Education and private academy teachers also attended EdCamp.

A national organization, EdCamp conducts conferences across the country and structures the format to give participants control of the discussion. A teacher can leave one session if they aren’t gaining from the conversation and go to another, John Peck said. Peck works as public relations manager for Madison City Schools.

“Our group of co-organizers went to EdCamp in Birmingham and wanted to bring this kind of professional development back to North Alabama,” Jacquelyn Flowers said. Flowers serves as instructional partner at Discovery Middle School. “This is the most wonderful professional development experience for teachers ever.”

Along with Flowers, event cofounders were Carmen Buchanan, assistant principal, Liberty Middle School; Angie Bush, French teacher, James Clemens; Melissa Coman, instructional partner, Mill Creek Elementary School; Alyson Carpenter, instructional partner in residence, Alabama Best Practices Center; and Sandy Brand, technology coach with Madison County Schools.

Questions and issues about technology in the classroom dominated many discussions. In breakout sessions, educators talked about easy-to-access websites, tools that teachers consider useful, and instructional leadership methods. EdCamp was free with breakfast and lunch provided. Attendance was limited to 200 people.

The EdCamp conference stressed informal sharing of ideas instead of formal presentations. “Participants liked the atmosphere and informal sharing and networking. Some of our best professional development comes from our colleagues,” Buchanan said.

Vendors did not attend EdCamp so teachers weren’t pressured to buy any products.

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