Edcamp Leadership - an unconference for school leaders

Edcamp Leadership (@EdCampLdr) is a free un-conference devoted to K-12 education issues and ideas. Its goal is to assemble forward-thinking school administrators, board of education members, classroom teacher leaders, parents/community members – anyone interested in K-12 education – for a day of conversation, reflection and inspiration.

Thinking About Sessions

Monday, August 4th will see the third annual appearance of Edcamp Leadership, the unconference targeted specifically to educational leaders.  Having been a part of the organizing teams for the first two Edcamp Leadership events, this particular Edcamp series holds a special place in my heart.  It’s even more special to me this year since this is the first year I will be attending while employed in an official leadership position.

With that in mind, I’ve been thinking about what session I would like to facilitate this year.  After a very well-received session on flipping the faculty meeting in 2012, I had to leave the 2013 event early and so didn’t run one.  Since I can’t imagine I’ll be the only rookie in the house this time, I’m thinking of holding a New Leaders Roundtable, specifically for people in the first few years of their leadership positions.

I will obviously have more questions than answers, given that I haven’t even started the job yet, but my hope is that we can get a group of folks in their first three or four years of their leadership role to sit down and share experiences, problems, solutions, and just contribute whatever else we think is crucial to the general body of knowledge in the room.

My preference is for these discussions to be truly organic and participant-driven, but as the facilitator I do feel it’s my responsibility to come in with some general overarching questions.  Here’s what I’m thinking so far:

  • What do you know now that you wish you knew before you started?
  • What have been your best- (or worst!) received efforts in supporting teachers?
  • How do you balance managerial responsibilities with those of an instructional leader?
  • What are your best strategies for remaining connected to the needs and concerns of the student body as you moved away from your teaching position?
  • How have you built trust and relationships among and with your staff?

In the spirit of collaboration, I’m asking you, dear reader, to add to this list with any suggestions you have, either as a newbie administrator or as a vet who knows better questions to ask.  Tweet them to me at @damian613 and tag them #edcampldr and I’ll be sure to include them in the conversation on August 4.  Of course, while the session will likely be of interest to mostly new/emerging leaders, anyone is welcome to attend and contribute to the aggregate wisdom in the room.

If you’re coming, I hope you’ll consider facilitating a session, especially if it’s your first time at an Edcamp.  As I demonstrated above, you don’t have to walk in with an hour-long Powerpoint (in fact, we don’t want that).  All you need is a topic, some questions, and the willingness to ask, listen, and learn.

Even if you can’t attend the day in person, we hope you’ll follow the proceedings on Twitter via the hashtag #edcampldr.

Damian Bariexca is one of the original Edcamp Leadership organizers and will be starting his new position as Supervisor of Educational Technology & Related Arts in Lawrence Twp. (NJ) Public Schools in September 2014.  Read his blog at Apace of Change or follow him on Twitter.

Meet Tina Mitchell, Principal (She’s coming to Edcamp Leadership!)


Location: Lansdale, Pennsylvania

How are you involved in education?

I’m the principal of a K-1 school in suburban Philadelphia and an alum of the PennGSE’s Mid Career Doctoral Program in Ed Leadership (@MCDPEL Cohort 7!).

What’s your ideal classroom or school like?

My ideal school would be one where student learning and development is top priority, where teachers are free and willing to take instructional risks, where teachers assume leadership roles and participate in decision making, where students have plenty of opportunities to learn and engage in leadership, where the principal can engage in true educational leadership which includes leading for learning, and where parents and community members feel welcome and work to expand the learning opportunities for our students and show the utmost respect and support for our teachers and staff!

Have you ever attended an unconference before? If so, which ones?

No, but I am excited to attend my first in Philly!

if you were to lead a session at Edcamp, what would it be about?

If I were to lead a session at EdCamp Leadership, it would be about leading for learning – incorporating professional learning opportunities into the school day for teachers and staff.

Are you on Twitter?


Meet Rebecca Penina Simon, EdTech Coach & Coordinator (She’s coming to Edcamp Leadership!)

Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 9.05.44 PM

Location: Cedarhurst, New York

How are you involved in education?

I am an Educational Technology Coach and Coordinator at a PK-8 independent school in Flushing, Queens, NY. I train and mentor teachers on various educational technology tools and how to integrate them in the classroom seamlessly. I also teach students various technology skills. I am creative and innovative always looking for great products, content, and activities to redefine learning.

What’s your ideal classroom or school like?

My ideal classroom would be one that is student centered where students often learn collaboratively and guided by the teacher. The teacher differentiates instruction so that each child can reach his/her full potential. The learning is exciting and fun and the students are engaged. Technology is used at times when it supports and enhances the learning. Students given time to think creatively and produce – not just consume content.

Have you ever attended an unconference before? If so, which ones?

Yes. I have been a few JEDcamp un-conferences which are modeled after the Edcamp un-conferences. In addition, on May 22 I hope to attend a Google Camp which will be an un-conference as well.

if you were to lead a session at Edcamp, what would it be about?

Using adaptive leadership and peer coaching to lead other educators in positive culture change.

Do you have a website or blog?


Are you on Twitter?


Meet Sam Fancera, Principal (He’s coming to Edcamp Leadership!)


Location: Bridgewater, New Jersey

How are you involved in education?

School principal

What’s your ideal classroom or school like?

Students fully engaged in solving interdisciplinary problems using a variety of resources with teacher serving as facilitator.

Have you ever attended an unconference before? If so, which ones?

This will be my first un-conference.

If you were to lead a session at EdCamp Leadership, what would it be about?

The importance of emphasizing independent reading during the elementary years.

Do you have a website or blog?


On Twitter?


Meet Jon Pollard, Elementary Principal (he’s coming to Edcamp Leadership!)


Location: Wyoming, Pennsylvania

How are you involved in education? I am an elementary principal and doctoral student.

What’s your ideal classroom or school like? Vibrant student centered teacher facilitated

Have you ever attended an unconference before? If so, which ones?

This will be my first unconference.

if you were to lead a session at Edcamp, what would it be about?

Teachers using Twitter for PLC

Are you on Twitter?


Meet Chrissy Miles, Director of Consulting Services for Authentic Education (She’s coming to Edcamp Leadership!)


Location: Westmont, New Jersey

How are you involved in education?

I am the Director of Consulting Services for Authentic Education, Grant Wiggins’ organization. Within this role, I design and provide educators with professional development on Understanding by Design. In addition to providing meaningful PD, Authentic Education assists districts and education-based organizations in writing and developing high-quality curriculum.

In addition to this, I recently received my Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership and Innovation from Wilmington University. Through this pursuit, I have studied the diffusion of the Edcamp model of PD throughout the globe. It’s amazing to see how the Edcamp phenomenon has grown in such a short time!

What’s your ideal classroom or school like?

My ideal classroom inspires students by providing them with autonomy in learning. It shows them that all members (teacher included!) have unique interests and empowers students. It is an environment where we all have the ability to contribute, explore, and develop into our best possible selves.

Have you ever attended an unconference before? If so, which ones?

As an original organizer of Edcamp Philly, I have attended this event each year. In addition, I have organized and attended Edcamp Leadership, and WilmU Leadercamp (an unconference for Wilmington University graduate students). I have also organized Edcamp DOE and have participated in Edcamp NY.

if you were to lead a session at Edcamp, what would it be about?

Leading curriculum change, enhance collaboration, collegiality, culture, and communication –

Do you have a website or blog?


Are you on Twitter?


Meet Dr. Jeff Zoul, Asst. Supt, Deerfield PSD 109

Location: Lake Forest, Illinois

How are you involved in education?

Currently, I serve as the Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning with the Deerfield Public Schools District #109 in Deerfield, Illinois. In addition, I have written extensively on educational leadership and published several books. I have consulted with over 100 schools across the nation on various issues relating to school leadership and teaching and learning.

What’s your ideal classroom or school like?

An ideal classroom is one in which ALL students are engaged, inspired, and empowered to reach their full potential. They are actively involved in the 4 Cs of 21st Century Learning–Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, and Critical Thinking–on a regular basis. My ideal classroom includes a teacher who is fully equipped and excited about teaching in this way and is supported so that s/he may do so. Kids in such classrooms are curious knowledge seekers–and meaning makers who all take on some leadership role within the class. The teacher and all students in the class believe in a growth mindset and effort-based ability.

Have you ever attended an unconference before? If so, which ones?

Yes, in Bettendorf, Iowa #EdCampIowa, Chicago, Illinois, and recently in our own district EdCamp, #edcamp109

If you were to lead a session at Edcamp, what would it be about?

Using Twitter to Become a Connected Educator or Designing Districtwide Professional DevelopmentDo you have a website or blog?

Are you on Twitter?


What is an Edcamp?


Originally posted by Kevin Jarrett

An Edcamp is an “unconference,” a participant-driven professional development experience that is sweeping the nation (and the world) since the first one was held in Philadelphia in 2010.

The brief video below, shot and produced at Edcamp Philadelphia in 2010, captures much of the essence of the event – and will give you an idea what to expect.

This video, from Edcamp Toronto 2011, is an even more in-depth look at what makes Edcamps unique and powerful learning experiences.

Comments? Questions? You know what to do.

See you in August

Meet Tom Whitford, Lead Learner (he’s coming to Edcamp Leadership!)

If you’d like to be featured in our Who’s Coming? series, fill out this form!

How are you involved in education?

I am the Lead Learner of of a PreK-8 School in Wisconsin.

What’s your ideal classroom or school like?

My ideal school would be filled with passionate learners, students and teachers alike. Creativity would be a focus and teachers would be guiding students in project based learning activities. It would be a culture where everyone feels safe to explore, learn and fail, only to try again. I would want it to be a place filled with smiles and a sense of discovery.

Have you ever attended an unconference before? If so, which ones?

EdcampMadWi and Edcampmke

Do you have a website or blog?


Are you on Twitter?


Not Your Average Admin In-Service Day – Edcamp Leadership

Image credit: chrissieadamsdotcom.files.wordpress.com
Last summer, I attended my first Edcamp – Edcamp Leadership in New Jersey. The Twitter hashtag used before, during and after this FREE un-conference is #edcampldr. 
For newcomers trying to get an idea of what to expect, a full list of potential sessions offered by the attendees can be found on last year’s Google Doc. Reflecting back, I learned a great deal from the conference and embedded several things into my own leadership during that un-conference day. Specifically, three things come to mind:
  1. I learned ways to flip my faculty meeting, spending less time on announcements and more time on PD, relationship building and modeling a maximization of time with my staff.  (Link: Notes from Flipped Faculty Meetings)
  2. I also offered an Edcamp-style un-conference back in my own building, increasing the interest and engagement in what would have been the traditional “stand and deliver/talk at your audience all day” In-Service model. (Link: #Edcamp Comes to @KnappElementary Part 1 & Part 2-Staff Impressions)
  3. We’re offering the first #ParentCamp (online registration link) at @KnappElementary later this month. Sessions will include many of the most valuable parent-teacher chat (#ptchat) topics over the last two years on Wednesday nights. (Flyer: North Penn ParentCamp offered to all K-6 families)

To view last year’s experience in pictures, here are some great shots taken by Kevin Jarrett (@kjarrett), one of the event organizers. 

I encourage you to register for #edcampldr before space runs out – and it will. The number of high-caliber leaders that attend this FREE un-conference day over the summer is pretty amazing.

Joe Mazza