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District 25 hosts EdCamp for area teachers

May 23, 2016


Arlington Heights, IL –Teachers piled into South Middle School on a cool Saturday morning in May, without a plan.

This uneasiness was countered with excitement and anticipation as these 150 teachers were met by a smiling District 25 staff and a breakfast. The teachers and staff were in for a day of peer run professional development with the goals of generating discussion, openness and connection on many levels.

“This was one of the better professional learning days that I’ve ever been a part of,” Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning for Arlington Heights School District 25 Dr. Eric Olson said.

Olson began his career in education 21 years ago and has been a part of several different types of professional development days, which is why he and his Department of Student Learning team were so excited about hosting this one in particular.

EdCamp Illinois and District 25 teamed up to offer a day of personalized professional learning for any teacher in the area that wanted it. This event was free and breakfast, lunches and prizes were donated by local businesses in Arlington Heights.

According to the EdCamp Illinois website, this experience is not the traditional professional learning day in that it offers attending teachers choice and freedoms in what their sessions will be and what will be learned.

“We spend so much time pushing and developing the idea and concept of personalized learning for our students,” Dr. Olson said, “we want to offer that same type of learning to our teachers and staff who are actually the ones working with our students.”

Here’s how the day unfolded. Teachers entered South Middle School and were directed to the large commons area. The attendees ate breakfast and then were prompted to start planning their own day of professional learning.

With a Google sheet on the screen, teachers and staff were asked to walk up to a microphone and voice the topic(s) they want discussed. Those ideas were collected and entered into the Google sheet to eventually be organized and assigned to a room in the building.

Then the fun began, as teachers were set loose to go attend a session that most interested them. Teachers and staff attending the EdCamp moderated the sessions, and while some were simple discussions, others were intense demonstrations and showcases. All were, however, genuine, open and successful tactics at getting ideas flowing from the teachers and staff who live through these curriculums and ideas every day.

Maker spaces, design thinking, games in the classroom, one to one devices and even how to make the end of the year engaging were all among the 30 topics discussed and developed.

“The atmosphere was electric,” Dr. Olson said. “I loved watching as colleagues from all over the area made true connections. It was exciting.”

Teachers from all over the area, even some from Wisconsin attended this free EdCamp, and it wasn’t uncommon to hear plans for newly acquainted staff to stay in touch in order for the learning to continue.

Adam Harris