This Saturday, July 24, 2010 is a special all day conference for new teachers. It is being held at The Boys’ Latin Charter School of Philadelphia from 8:00AM to 4:00PM. This is a must-attend event and it is free!
The organizers describe the event as this: “#ntcamp stands for new teachers camp. It is a one day forum designed for new and old teachers, administrators, librarians and tech specialists to converse and discuss best practices in education.”
At first glance, it may seem to be a typical teacher conference. This is overwhelmingly wrong. It is so much more complicated, yet simple in its philosophy, approach and benefits. The best way to understand it is to revisit its predecessor, #edcamp Philly.
In May of this year, a group of passionate educators, who mostly met on Twitter, decided to create #edcamp Philly. (The # sign is called a hash tag and is used as a method of recognizing a topic on Twitter.) These dedicated professionals came up with the idea of approaching learning for teachers in a new way. They decided that the teachers and their interests would be the guiding force for the day. It should also be noted that they created this spectacular event with no compensation or financial gain for themselves.
Upon arrival, at #edcamp Philly attendees were handed a free t-shirt as well as a name tag. Everyone was asked to use their Twitter user name as well. Before entering the main room, the organizers guided you to a board and asked you to peruse a list of sessions. This list of choices came from the people standing next to you. If someone had a topic they wanted to discuss, they slapped on another index card. A session was born! The choices met everyone’s interests.
The morning greeting was more like a pep rally and then the participants were set free to wander, roam, discuss and change their minds. This was the best part. If you attended a session and then felt that it didn’t quite meet your needs, you were free to get up and leave… no hard feelings. Even between sessions, groups of people were engaged in conversations that were intense and forceful. Everywhere you looked laptops, netbooks and iPads were buzzing as people made connections and shared information. (Oh, and everyone was dressed down – no school/teacher clothes.)
At the end of the day, there were groups of people who continued their discussions at nearby restaurants. Throughout the next weeks, the discussion continued on Twitter and others wrote blogs to keep the excitement of learning going. This was the key to the entire day: learning and sharing. There was a spirit of camaraderie and community that was contagious. Moreover, it still resonates today – two months later.
There have been numerous #edcamps around the United States as it has caught on like wild fire. This Saturday #ntcamp will continue the tradition first established by #edcamp Philly. #ntcamp promises to fulfill and expand the original concept. If a teacher is interested in spending a day with fellow teachers, both rookies and tenured, who are passionate about learning, growing and being surrounded by the best this country has to offer in education, attend #ntcamp this Saturday, July 24th at The Boys; Latin Charter School of Philadelphia.