Today I went to EdCamp After Hours at Harrison High School in Nj. Bibiana Prada and Maria Fernandez were the lead organizers of the event. What separates this EdCamp from most others is that Bibiana is bringing EdCamps to urban school districts. The major change is that the EdCamp is held right after school. This allows teachers from urban districts to go right from work to the professional development. The second part of this initiative is that the hosting school provides dinner for the participants. As the great Jarrod Robinson says, “limit or remove the barriers to entry”.
The event was intimate with a little over 50 people attending. What was cool about the attendees is that it ran the gamut from administrators to social workers to teachers. Every facet of the Harrison Township School District was represented. This shows clearly that the staff is working together and supporting each other.
Over 90% of the employees had never been to an EdCamp before. Knowing this some sessions were chosen and placed on the board before the attendees arrived. This took the pressure off of the event and the newbies by having veteran facilitators take on some of the burdens.
I facilitated two of my favorite subjects social justice and movement in the classroom. The social justice session was amazing. It was a true facilitation. In attendance, there were administrators, a college professor, an ESL teacher, an affirmative action officer, and a school counselor. We discussed intersectionality, the difference between sex and gender, and the idea of taking care of the child’s basic needs before being able to teach them content. The session gave me life. The conversation was flowing and the engagement in the room was through the roof. I took away more from the session than anyone else! What a fantastic group of people to converse with.
The second session I facilitated was movement in the classroom. Coming from the #PhysEd and #Healthed world this is near and dear to my heart. I learned about karate math. This looks super cool. If anyone knows more about it hit me up! I pulled out the usual bag of kinesthetic tricks including rock, paper, scissors, least common multiple, the game jump, and four corners. As always I gave a shot out to Mike Kuczala and his Kinesthetic Classroom book.
A cool part of the night was the app smack down. We demonstrated Nearpod, NoRedInk, Seesaw, Plickers, podcasts, Twitter, and more. The attendees were all about it. We gave out swag at the end but unlike other EdCamps, it wasn’t all about the swag.
I have to say that this was one fantastic event. I had a really great conversation with a vice principal, guidance counselor, and principal about the walkout that occurred that day. We went into the pros and cons, what to do with the students that stayed in, and how the police and fire were on patrol to ensure the student safety. The people truly made the evening shine. I have been to bigger events that had no energy and even less engagement. That was not the case tonight. From the little I know about the Harrison School District it seems like a place I would love to send my children to.
Huge shoutout to Shivan and Adriana who made the night so much fun. When the organizers are enjoying themselves it sets up the whole event for success.
If there are any EdCamps near you go to one!