I attended my first Edcamp earlier this month, #EdCampPDX, and left filled to the brim with excitement, motivation, instructional wizardry, and all manner of other teaching goodness I’d gained from a day learning from and with local professionals.
If, like me, you want to check out what the buzz is about but aren’t sure what to pack for this special form of professional development, read on for a few suggestions. If you are a longtime camper, please share your seasoned tips for those new to the experience.
EdCamp is an “unconference” – a model of professional development in which the participants pitch sessions at the venue, elect which sessions will come to being right before they go live, and vote with their feet as to which sessions stay afloat. Given the meeting space, the number and interests of participants, and the trajectory of conversations, you may easily find yourself in over a half dozen learning experiences and you’ll want to be prepared with a packing list in order to take advantage of the education goodness you’ll experience.
You may know some other campers, you may not, but by the end of EdCamp you will have met a handful to a bushel of wonderful educators who would love to connect with you about future projects, share resources, or otherwise communicate about your newfound camaraderie. Whether you prefer digital or print communication, be prepared to collect and share contact information of the people you will meet. Nametags are a must, as well as a charged device, notebook, and writing utensil.
A Change of Clothes
If you are the lucky hosts of an EdCamp you’ll know your building’s environment, yet it’s more than likely you’ll be camping at a new location. Most EdCamps are largely organized by teachers, for teachers, so while it is an industry meeting, isn’t necessarily a job interview. Dress for professional comfort, bring a layer or two in case you get the room with hyper vigilant air conditioning, and know you will likely be moving rooms multiple times. At #EdCampPDX, a photo booth full of accessories beckoned to participants to jazz up their ensembles with a fancy hat or two, so be ready for a little wardrobe pizzazz.
The Policy and Procedure Manual
You came to learn from others about how we do this courageous and challenging job we do, and your background knowledge is key to furthering your learning. Bring your awareness of the state and national content standards, essential practices, concepts, college and career readiness skills, and all other criteria and constraints under which you work. You will hear new perspectives, game plans, and other ways educators maximize application while highlighting individuality in serving under standardized guidelines. While you aren’t likely to need your lesson plan book or digital planner, having a framework in mind for upcoming units or questions about how to better facilitate a previous lesson might give you a place from which to initiate some discourse on how to meet student needs.
A Mess Kit
EdCamps are free, meaning there won’t likely be fancy meal plans, though some sponsorships enable organizers to provide sustenance that can range from coffee and donuts to a catered lunch. Check the descriptors for the camp when you register and pack some calories as appropriate. If meals aren’t a part of the event, take the opportunity to grab a nearby bite or coffee with one of your new comrades and debrief a session. At minimum you’ll want a water bottle and a snack, in case!
Have a colleague with whom you frequently plan? Nervous about meeting new people? Are you a pre-service teacher with classmates eager to explore the schools in your area? Band together and find strength in numbers! EdCamps can be a great place to work together to maximize session exposure, revamp plans, and build spur-of-the-moment work groups to actualize your thinking. While you want to be open to expanding your network, a collective can amplify learning.
You are going on an adventure, a really cool one. You get to choose what you learn, from whom, and to what degree. You might even choose to pitch a session, leading others in great work. You will leave with a book (figurative or literal) of snapshots from the journey, eager to share them with the folks back “home”. This is a you-driven journey, and your proverbial paddle is your purpose for going. Keep that purpose in mind as you bravely dip into uncharted waters and have faith you’ll find purchase in a new course.
At some point during the day, you’ll realize you’ve learned something (or more likely, a hundred somethings) you want to share with others. How can you encapsulate the experience for others? Who do you know that needs to attend an EdCamp – and could you host it? What about student EdCamps? The potential is endless, and you’ll leave eager to not only share the experience, but to sign up for the next camp session you can find!
CORElaborate is hosting an EdCamp on May 20th at the PSESD in Renton. Put the date in your calendar if you’ll be in the area and follow #WAteachlead on Twitter for more details to come!