It started as an observation and turned into something very cool and very powerful!
“Why don’t local teachers get together?”
That was the question Sarah approached me with during a phone conversation one evening and from there the EdCafe idea just took off. Even after discussing the possibilities of an event my mind kept wondering...Why does it seem like we (teachers) only seek professional development (PD) within our buildings and districts? Or, at conferences where we are networking with teachers from school districts several counties away? Why aren’t we talking to and learning from the teachers right down the street? It didn’t take long to realize that the solution to this would be simple...a little time, a little space, a lot of sharing of ideas, and all of it free to educators.
We were very lucky that finding sponsors for our minimal costs was easy. Our local school districts jumped at the opportunity to get local teachers from different schools in the same room together! Before Sarah and I knew it, EdCafe was a thing!
The entire purpose of EdCafe is simple. Getting local teachers together to share, learn, and network. Therefore, we wanted to make the event simple for teachers to be a part of. No need to get dressed up or tote along lots of materials. It is literally a wake-up and go event. Coffee (or water) are provided for some casual chatting and networking and then at 9:00AM the real magic begins. When we prepped educators and community members for an EdCafe presentation we told them “You are only talking about your idea for a few minutes. The whole point is to start a conversation.” We wanted not only to share new ideas with local teachers, but to also get them talking.
I don’t think we really realized how powerful this event could be. In the course of four Thursday mornings we heard new ideas for actually teaching in the classroom and encouragement for making it through those tough times in the educational profession. From learning about Plickers to Padlet to STEM activities and how to host a local guest speaker, the energy in the room just kept growing. Imagine a group of teachers from schools scattered over the Mid-MO area together in a room discussing their passion for helping students in any way they can. It was amazing! Not only did we learn about new techniques, but we got to talk about on the spot ideas with teachers from other districts right down the road! Teachers, when it comes to some great PD and networking...love local!
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