Experiencing EdCamp SEMass
Imagine watching a Snapchat story from an educator at #EdCampSEMass. Snaps from over 30 school districts of educators in attendance left inspired to try something new or explore concepts further. Your screen fills with several laughing educators who you quickly realize are a principal, school committee member, and teacher. There is a Google expert teaching both students and teachers about an app for a digital signature.
Several MassCUE members sit around a table and in 10 seconds explain an organization full of passionate educators who learn from each other. The words “BreakoutEDU” flash onto the screen next, giving you something to research. Then, you see clips of students sharing their thoughts about what school should be, what annoys them about teachers, and how they learn best. Your immediate thought is– “I wish I went to that”.
Voices explode onto the screen. This is an educational and (fun) social way of learning that our kids should learn to participate in also. An educator explained in a snap, “I am excited about the websites and resources that were shared, especially about preparing students for digital testing (MCAS). It seems that the session was posted more as a question, not really an “expert” to give out info. Everyone there had some questions and added some good input. I left with lots of great ideas and resources.” Another attendee was caught saying, “It is a great place to get information and increase my knowledge of classroom applications.” while another exclaimed, “I learned about apps that would be beneficial for students with reading and writing difficulties”. The number of teachers and administrators from all over Massachusetts who showed up with varying types of technology and applications to share was both amazing and inspiring.
Shared Learning at EdCampSE
The conference validated the value of meeting and collaborating with other educators as well as students. One high school student boldly shared the EdCamp experience, telling classmates why giving up a Saturday was so important to the educator community. Student voice at #EdCampSEMass was loud, clear and undeniably important. The student shared that a student’s opinion on what’s going on in the classroom is just as important as a teacher’s in order to make the classroom more appealing to students.
The Snapchat story coming from the inaugural #EdCampSEMass tells a story where titles are left at the door. It is a story that demonstrates the idea that motivation is both woven and driven by a fantastic blend of passion, curiosity, and connection. The story culminates with the power of the student voice in the student panel– leading us to discover we have arrived at this place, where we are all one, growing and discovering together.
The only difference in the EdCamp SoutheasternMA Snapchat story and other Snapchat stories is that these #EdCampSEMass memories do not disappear nor are they sitting on a server in some dark room. They become pieces of who we all are, a fiber of our being as we bring back new knowledge to our districts, empowering students to share their voices with others.
Of course, the day wouldn’t have been such a success without the support of MassCUE and the 25+ other sponsors. Thank you for your support of educators! No filters needed for this experience.
About the Authors:
Rayna Freedman, Kim Zajac, Jacqueline Prester, and Karen Winsper, the Co-Founders of #EdCampSoutheasternMA, are a blend of administrators and educators from the Mansfield and Norton Public School districts. They had an idea which evolved into a grassroots collaboration between the two towns to bring #EdCampSoutheasternMA to life!
Rayna Freedman teaches 5th grade at the Jordan/Jackson Elementary School in Mansfield, MA. She 2017 MassCUE Fall Conference Co-Chair and is a member of the MassCUE Development and Outreach Committee. Rayna presented at MassCue Fall Conference 2016 and brought student voice to the conference introducing her students as presenters in the CUEkid area. Rayna is embarking on her doctorate through Northeastern as she hopes to change the field of education some day. You can follow Rayna on Twitter @rlfreedm 
Kim Zajac is an Speech Language Pathologist with Norton Public Schools, She is co-leader of the MassCUE SLP/SPED SIG. She was featured in OnCue as a Featured Educator in September 2016 and was a presenter at MassCue Fall Conference 2016. She is passionate about establishing equitable access & opportunity for learning for ALL students by supporting the integration of educational technology tools in instruction & specialized service delivery. To see what else Kim is thinking about, you can follow her on twitter @SLP_NMS 
Jacqueline Prester is a business teacher at Mansfield High School and was named the 2015 MA Business Teacher of the Year. She is Chair of the MassCue Finance committee and serves on the MassCue Development and Outreach Committee. She was has been nationally recognized for her achievements in financial literacy, entrepreneurship, STEM, and technology. Jacqueline can be followed on Twitter @mrsprester 
Karen Winsper is the Director of Instructional Technology for the Norton Public Schools. She is on the TechDirectors  Board of Directors 2016 and was awarded the MassCUE  Pathfinder Award in 2016 for her role as a visionary change agent within the Norton Public Schools district. Karen is Member of MassCue Communications Committee and an avid EdCamp attendee. Karen Winsper is excited to support participant driven professional development. She can be found on Twitter @kwinsper