3 weeks, 3 edcamps, 3 experiences

3 weeks. 3 edcamps. 3 experiencesEach of the last three Saturdays I’ve attended an edcamp.  All three have been SO very different.  I think that’s one of the things I love the most about the whole concept of edcamps: the culture, conversation and feel of the day is not determined until the participants show up!

April 23: edcampNoVA, Falls Church, VA.  

I’m a co-founder and co-organizer of edcampNoVA. I LOVE the energy that our participants brought to Marshall HS.  We had great feedback from our participants and I thoroughly enjoyed the day.  However I felt like I wasn’t able to fully immerse myself in the experience because I was focused on the details, logistics and making sure everything was just right for all our attendees.  From helping with check in, ensuring folks knew how to submit ideas, to running the prize drawing and all sorts of little tasks in between I kept busy all morning!

Our numbers increased drastically.  That was great (and scary) news for our organizing team.  It meant we needed more spaces, more food, more prizes, more energy.  We drew a wide range of educators from around the region.  Many repeat attendees and by the end of day we kept hearing that folks will be back in the fall (November 12 at Chantilly HS)!  I don’t have data to support this but I feel like we had a greater mix of educators this year – we had many librarians (thanks to the work that @gcmlibrary and @libraryMS did at the regional librarian conference) and more classroom teachers!  I think something that all edcamp organizers struggle with is how to also involve the non-techy teachers.  After all, we advertise on social media, through our tech specialists, and those techy teachers are the ones who access that message!

I loved the ideas I gained – even though I felt like I never was able to sit through an entire session!  My connections with the folks in a couple of the nearby districts are what really has stuck with me the most.  We are embarking on a 1:1 adventure in my school and I have so many questions! We had a session about what it looks like and we have learned in our experiences.  It was reassuring to hear that I was not the only one struggling with a balance of the logistics and the instructional strategies.  Having built these relationships with folks that I can reach out to when our going gets tough is so thrilling!

The organizing team for edcampNoVA is amazing:  Joan Brown, Krissy Ronan, Sam Wightman, JB Reynolds, Molly Patrician, Tim Stahmer, Sarah Thomas and me.

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April 30: edcampSummit, Philadelphia, PA2016-04-30 09.50.19

I would describe edcampSummit as magical. We talk about the energy and commitment of edcamp attendees being what makes the day so of learning so meaningful.  Well, when you pull together all the folks who give up weeks and months to plan that day for others, it only magnifies the magic!  I met so many wonderful educators, learned so much and I really feel that the weekend gave me ideas to improve our edcamp.

My favorite part of edcampSummit was that we didn’t just talk about our edcamps.  We talked about our schools, our districts, our classrooms.  We learned about BreakoutEDU, and participated in a powerful conversation about diversity in our teaching ranks.  We connected with other educators and grew our networks which will only improve the learning experiences our students have!

 

Thanks to the edcamp Foundation for this experience and especially Kim Sivik for her organizing prowess!

May 7: edcampMetroDC, Washington, DC

One of the first things I noticed about edcampMetroDC this morning was the number of first time attendees! I would say about 80% of folks were edcamp newbies!  By sessions 2 and 3 we were rocking and rolling and having really amazing and powerful conversations.  I learned sooo much from folks in these sessions.  Special thanks to the edcampMetroDC organizing team for an amazing day! Matt Frattali, Chip Chase, Maris Hawkins, Jess Peters, and Emily Simpson.

2016-05-07 09.19.17I LOVED being a participant.  It gave me so many opportunities to jump in and be a part of the conversation.  When I got up early Saturday morning, thinking about the 50 minute drive ahead, I considered going back to bed.  However, I’ve been craving the chance to really participate in edcamp ever since edcampNoVA a few weeks ago.  So off I went!  And I am so glad I did!!

At edcampMetroDC I participated in a session about critical thinking and gained so many ideas to help students think more than just follow instructions.  I think we’ve built a system of compliance in most of our schools for our students and challenging them to think outside of that box.  We talked about strategies and programs that encourage this in our schools.  I can’t wait to share these with my teachers and hopefully push the thinking of our students!

One unique part of the culture of this edcamp compared to others I’ve attended is the diversity of school options in and around DC.  There are public schools (DCPS), private schools, and public charter schools.  These schools (I learned from the conversations) have extremely different levels of funding, family incomes and populations.  This caused a real split in the conversation. I believe we all can learn from the different perspectives shared.  I heard and saw people shrugging off what others had to say because of how different their school and students are.  I have been wrestling with this for the last 24 hours.  How can we help to ensure folks have an open mind to learn with and from each other? While respecting and appreciating (rather than dismissing) the diversity of our experiences?  Comments like “oh, well they can do that because they have ____” or “wouldn’t that be nice..we could never do that” make it hard, not only for the participants who hold these feelings, but also those around them.  I’m wondering if bringing these feelings to light at the opening of the edcamp can help our participants acknowledge these differences and encourage the open mindedness we are hoping for.   It may help us set a purpose for listening to ideas that others share and applying it to our own schools and classes, no matter the differences we see and hear.

What suggestions do you have for encouraging open mindedness when it comes to this level of differences?

I’m so thankful to Edcamp Foundation for the support for all these different opportunities! I’ve learned so much from each and every one.  Want to find an edcamp in your area?  Check this list.   Want to organize and bring one to your area?  There are so many resources here!

An added bonus?  Connecting with so many members of your PLN in person!

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2 thoughts on “3 weeks, 3 edcamps, 3 experiences

  1. Nova was really beautifully organized and I learned a ton.

    I’m kicking myself that I missed the Foundation event last week, I was at AIMStech, oh well maybe next year (turns out Shannon went to BOTH conferences!).

    Yeah we had a much more diverse crowd at MetroDC when we moved it from a private school venue to a public school venue. I was nervous at first about the teacher who mandated her students come to the conference, but her students seemed to have fun and maybe saw a different and fun style of PD.

    Liked by 1 person

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