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Sometimes the best way to learn is through collaboration with others in your field. That’s the idea behind Ed Camp, a free one-day professional development opportunity for teachers from preschool to college.

Ed Camp is different from your typical conference in that its content is dictated by attendees. Upon registration, organizers send out a form that allows participants to suggest topics for discussion. Topics are not determined until the day of the event when participants have one last opportunity to make suggestions. Organizers then use those suggestions to create discussion rooms.

Some popular topics from last year’s Ed Camp included integrating technology into classroom content, flexible seating and best practices in reading. Another popular room was the first-year teacher discussion room, where first-year teachers mingled with veteran teachers.

“It allowed the veteran teachers to see the perspective of newer teachers and allowed the newer teachers to develop relationships that could help them through the rest of their career,” said event organizer Kelli Coons.

Participants are encouraged to make the event their own, through what Coons calls “the rule of two feet.” That means if you get into a discussion room that turns out to be different than you expected, you can leave and find a place that will be more helpful for you.

“The event is designed so that you get and give information,” said Coons. “Their are no paid speakers. Our slogan is “the smartest person in the room is the room.”

Though sessions are not always divided by grade level, Coons said educators in the same grade bands often gravitated to one another to create mini sessions within the room. The camp is designed to be a safe environment for teachers to ask questions of one another and glean from the experience of others.

“You always think your problems are unique to you,” said Coon. “It can be embarrassing to say what you don't know. This is a safe place for that to happen.”

In addition to the collaborative sessions, Ed Camp will provide breakfast and lunch at no charge to participants. To add to the fun, there will be lots of goodies and door prizes — from trips and gift cards to things to use in the classroom.

“It might be the most fun professional development you have ever done,” said Coons. “If you are going to give up a Saturday, you should have fun!”

Ed Camp

When: 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 3

Where: Blythe Academy in Greenville. 250 slots available.

More:edcampgreenville.weebly.com.

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