Reflections on Ed Camp Hamilton

Saturday May 4th, beautiful sunny weather, no humidity and roughly 150 energized educators at Ancaster Sr. Public School to participate in Ed Camp Hamilton.


First, hats off to the organizing committee for planning a great event  — lots of positive energy and opportunity for networking —  take a bow.

I arrived early enough to take advantage of the opportunity to network prior to the official kickoff. It was wonderful to greet friends, meet online acquaintances for the first time and make new connections.

The day followed the traditional ed camp format with a group kickoff to pose questions to form the basis for the days discussion.  The submissions were sorted into groupings and assigned to room locations to facilitate the proceedings of the day.  Each of the discussions I attended was thought provoking:

  •  shift
  • motivating colleagues to change, try new things and take risks when they are reluctant
  • the role of administrators
  • innovation: grass roots, top down, or both
  • what other ingredients are needed for change
  • assessment: do current practices hinder change?
  • the squashing of innovate practice by some of those who fear change and risk taking

Great discussion, no easy answers, nuggets to chew on, things to ponder, take aways to try, ideas to share — awesome!  In addition to the excellent session discussion, three additional conversations are still rattling around in my mind.  One conversation started with Ron Millar and continued with Jenni van Rees  — new ideas for scaling a PD plan for next year.  Hold that thought and perhaps watch for a future blog post.

The second conversation started in the lunch line with Jane Mitchinson and Carlo Fusco, then continued at the lunch table with Ron and Jenni joining us.  We got talking about socialization, the impact of that process and when important conversations become too big and lose focus.  I believe we agreed that one of the hot topics and key elements of change in education right now is the “hot ball” of putting the conditions  of change in place, the shift to technology enabled learning, continued focus on pedagogical improvement and building capacity for change and risk taking. In essence, I believe this synergy  burns brightly because events such as ECOO, the OTRK12 conference,  the Ontario GAFE Summit and this Ed Camp event keep fuelling the flame  for continued learning, sharing and professional reflection.  Sustained energy is SO important right now.

BUT, what happens when the conversations become blurred by the big paint brushes — questions that could take the collective us off our game. Questions that are too big and too general to ever be wrestled to the ground.  Loss of focus would be a major hinderance.  Do people supporting change NOW, have to also be guardians of the focus of the journey?

The third conversation happened after the event – a very engaging conversation with Donna Fry. We talked further about the challenges of creating opportunities for change, and sustaining the energy to keep things going.  Donna has great ideas and big plans for her area — what an amazing educator! I hope I can be a part of the action.

Thanks again to team Ed Camp Hamilton for arranging this successful event.  For those that could not attend, check out the #edcampham twitter stream.  Until the next event, see you online and keep the learning, sharing and reflecting GOING.

Related Resources

Now Thats PD  by  Jane Mitchinson
The revolution will be tweeted … at the Shifting Ideas  blog by Carlo Fusco
Ed Camp Hamilton Reflection by David Fife (
EdCampHam left me with more questions …. by Karen Wilson


7 thoughts on “Reflections on Ed Camp Hamilton”

  1. Hats off to you, Mark, for getting something in writing so quickly. I have yet to figure out how to stop my head from exploding and focus on each of the learnings from yesterday. This was my first edCamp experience, and I travelled to Hamilton for many reasons, one being to see if hosting an edCamp in the north would be a worthwhile experience. Worthwhile? This event was mind blowing! After the year we had in schools, the real story is right here. ~150 educators indoors (mostly) on a brilliant Saturday, passionately (understatement) engaged in conversations about learning. It was exciting to be a part of, and deepening the f2f relationships with other learners is always valuable.

    We have some great ideas and plans for moving forward, These are exciting times in education. I’m glad to have you at my side as we learn from those around us and work to make schools places where our kids can thrive. It was a pleasure to learn with you, iDad!


  2. Great discussion at lunch yesterday Mark. I’m always left pondering questions after our talks.

    The question you posed in this blog post got me thinking again tonight, “Do people supporting change NOW, have to also be guardians of the focus of the journey?” I think we do, to an extent. Some of the decisions we make now may affect others coming in afterwards. That’s why I’ve been doing a lot of cautioning lately about partnerships with publishers. A deal set today could be precedent- setting. I’m not sure how much, “look before you cross” will impede innovation. I like to think that critical thinking on the integration of tech in education will lessen the number of times we have to turn around and come back up the path to try another route, so to speak. Asking questions will always help us keep focus and I believe, get us there quicker and more efficiently.

    Happy to be along on the ride with you.

  3. Hi Mark,

    Had this link passed on to me today. Remember when I was talking about the potential for an echo chamber and how some valuable voices have been left behind by opting out of Twitter? I also commented on the steering of conversations by a select few who have the power to include or exclude lesser known voices. Thought this article had some interesting points and research that potentially back my complaints about the formation of an echo chamber.

    “Of all the things that Twitter is, here’s what it’s not: our modern-day Athenian Agora. Only 13 per cent of Americans read Twitter messages, and only 3 per cent tweet or retweet news, according to a Pew Research Center study released in March. It concluded that “only a narrow sliver of the public is represented” on Twitter.

    That makes it a lousy place to crowdsource, unless the crowd you’re interested in is a tiny, self-selected sampling of urban liberals and political propagandists.”

    When I complained about the echo chamber last summer in an online Twitter conversation, I was told that all I need to do is expand my Twitter circle by following more people. The advice didn’t do anything for bringing in the voices I’ve been missing outside the Twitterverse, but it did make sense in the way that I could potentially find different perspectives of those already in Twitter. Does having a high number of people we follow and followers turn us into skimmers who then fail to engage deeply enough and really try to get to know other?” What’s the magic number, if any? How do we manage our behaviour to make sure we are connecting beyond the 140 characters?

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