Let's Talk About #EdCamp...
Disclaimer: I’ve only been to two #EdCamps ever. I don’t work for #EdCamp (does anyone “work” for #EdCamp?), I’ve not organized or sponsored one, etc. I just… show up and participate. Like normal people. Or teachers.
But I confess that I do loves me some #EdCamp. Given how much negative and/or tedious stuff is swirling about these days (much of it by my own hand), I thought I might celebrate something good in the edu-world.
Yeah, don’t get used to it.
1. #EdCamp is voluntary.
I realize that a certain amount of PD is required each year and that there are reasons for that. As someone who’s both led and attended more hours than I can count, however, I assure you there’s simply no comparison between a group required to be somewhere and a group who’s chosen to be that same somewhere.
That’s why large districts who consider hosting their own internal #EdCamp – or some variation thereof – are doomed to—
Wait. Let me put that more optimistically…
Districts who consider hosting their own internal #EdCamp or some variation thereof face substantial hurdles to their success. You can’t mandate 500 teachers’ willingness and enthusiasm – and that’s a big part of what drives any #EdCamp.
2. #EdCamp is decentralized.
Yes, someone has to organize some logistics. There’s a venue. There are sponsors so we can have lunch. Registration to manage numbers. Announcements and help for those who need it. All good things.
But the substance of each #EdCamp is in the hands of participating teachers.
The logistics may vary, but the day’s agenda is generally compiled after everyone arrives. Participants indicate on cards, phone apps, or chart paper taped along the wall, what they’d be interested in learning, or discussing, or leading, or facilitating. Organizers fling this into the available time slots and spaces, and by the time the local drill team or jazz band is done with their complimentary performance or whatever, we have a schedule.
Turns out that willing educators are perfectly capable of working out all sorts of things for themselves if given half an opportunity. You’d never have guessed that from the 89,726 pages of regulations and statutes governing our every potty break during the school day.
3. #EdCamp is libertarian.
Well, sort of.
Participants attend any session that sounds interesting to them. Most are discussion-driven rather than traditionally “led;” facilitated or hosted more than taught. A strong leader draws more people into the discussion rather than having the most to say him or herself.
You can stay put for the full session, or wander in when you’re ready. You can leave when you choose, and it’s not personal. It’s not offensive. No one asks why. Some sessions are large and vocal and others are smaller and more intimate. Some work really well, and others just kinda limp along.
But it’s all OK. Most are at least somewhat beneficial to those involved. All of them are freeing, and refreshing. It may seem counterintuitive, but in this setting at least, less structure generally results in more learning. More stretching. More peer-to-peer challenging.
Did I mention that #EdCamps are energizing?
4. #EdCamp is transparent and social media-ized.
I’m not one to believe that everything’s better with #EdTech. I adore and respect many who do, however, and during an #EdCamp, I kinda get why.
Rather than social media being a distraction, live-tweeting or otherwise sharing the day as it unfolds is both encouraged and enjoyed. Sponsors are thanked and promoted. Good discussions or insights in individual sessions are captured and distributed. Conversations evolve naturally both in person and online.
Don’t worry, Luddites – there’s still far more face-to-face love shared than I’ve experienced at any other kind of edu-vent. Social media in this context supports and simplifies human interaction – almost like that’s what it was meant to do in the first place.
Oh – I almost forget to mention how energi—
What? I did? Are you sure?
Huh. Well, it is.
5. All the best people go to #EdCamp.
I know, I know – but I put off the elitist, self-serving element as long as I could.
I LOVE the quality of people who show up at an #EdCamp. Folks I adore online, leaders I know only by reputation, teachers on whom I’ve had semi-secret edu-crushes for months or years… they all seem to show up at these things ready to get pedagogical.
I’m not sure that’s by design – everyone is welcome. It just seems to work out that way. Don’t tell anyone – I don’t want to ruin it.
I told you this was the elitist, self-serving part.
6. #EdCamp is free.
I don’t mind paying for something when it’s a good use of my limited funds.
But I don’t mind not paying for it, either. And there’s lunch.
7. #EdCamp is soon.
March 4th, Del City High School, 1900 S Sunnylane Rd, Oklahoma City, OK 73115.
I’m giddy. Can you tell?