‘Timing, Timing, Timing’ – Virtual EdCamp in Fairbanks, Alaska by Christina Hum, Richard Hum & Tana Martin

Timing, both in comedy and education, is everything! After helping to organize Alaska Interior EdCamp for March 24th, 2020, we couldn’t agree more. EdCamp is a grassroot version of unconference. An opportunity for educators to come together & make connections by learning from others. There are no planned sessions. EdCamp is free & open to everyone. When participants arrive, they communicate the topics about which they hope to learn & share. Organizers use that information to quickly build the schedule board of sessions. Click here to learn more about EdCamp

One of the small group breakout sessions in the virtual EdCamp… excited educators!

The idea for an Interior AK EdCamp was first proposed during the ASTE (Alaska’s Society for Technology in Education) 2019 Interior Region’s caucus meeting. Educators from YKSD, FNSBSD, UAF and Monroe Catholic School met virtually to plan our first event. 30-40 amazing educators attended our successful, Saturday morning event and engaged in a wide variety of informal, personal professional development. The quality of conversations that occurred completely blew us away.

Because the first event was such an amazing experience, we wanted to build off our momentum and plan a Spring 2020 followup. Little did we know what would unfold!

What the small groups looked like in the Fall EdCamp… Different ways of connecting and sharing but same great outcomes! Flexibility and timing are everything.

One week before our March event, we received notice that all public gatherings were to be canceled. We quickly met virtually and confirmed that now, more than ever, educators needed space to connect, talk and share. (Thankfully, a portion of our virtual foundation was established.  In the fall, we planned to include participants in villages but didn’t end up with any virtual participants.) @EdCamp_AKInt organizers pooled favorite distance teaching tools and set about building a new conference format that was simple for the participants while taking advantage of our wide ranging skills. Our crew REALLY rocks!

The event went off without a hitch. 40-50 participants used shared Google tools to keep everyone organized, along with Zoom meeting rooms for both breakout & group discussions… and the discussions! Oh wow! It was truly impressive to see teachers helping teachers in this time of unprecedented change in the education system. It was a moving, inspiring experience. Exactly what was needed at this specific point in time.

So what did we learn from it all? Without a doubt timing is everything. As educators we know this. Seeing and knowing what a student needs in the moment is quintessential to our craft. We do this for any learner, whether adult or child, in the classroom or at a conference. The grassroots structure of EdCamp allows it to be flexible and timely. Being able to switch EdCamp to a virtual event in less than a week exemplifies the power of teachers working together and sharing tools. We learned the great importance of an educator’s toolbox. The more skilled an educator, the larger the toolbox, and the greater their ability to meet learner’s needs when parameters shift. And, boy oh boy are we shifting now! Both conferences were amazing! The opportunity to connect and share with educators from around Alaska was just what we all need, especially in this moment of rapid change. Everyone of us added to our personal toolboxes on Saturday and left feeling just a bit more confident to manage the challenges we all face.