December 2015

Lessons Learned from my First Edcamp by Knikole Taylor

Saturday, October 3rd, I was fortunate to host the very first Edcamp in my area, Edcamp SW Dallas.  As I reflect on this journey that began in February of this year, I can say that I am proud of the team of educators who worked with me to ensure this event was a success.  Many of them had never experienced an Edcamp, but they were more than willing to bring a new type of professional development experience to Southwest Dallas.  There were many lessons learned, and I already have a few ideas of how we can do things even better next year.

1.  Start Early

All of the literature I have read suggest that you take at least 3 to 6 months to plan Edcamp.  I was first introduced to the Edcamp movement in a Twitter chat, #TabseChat, one Sunday evening.  I hadn't even attended an Edcamp, but I knew it was something that would benefit educators in my area who are full of great ideas and resources but don't have the time or space to share what they want to share often.  After attending my first Edcamp in April, I was hooked, and I began to reach out to other innovators in my district who I knew would assist me in bringing this to our area.  We took exaclty 6 months to plan our event.  Starting early ensured that we had time to attend other Edcamps to continue learning as well as to see great ideas already in use by Edcamp pros.  This time period also allowed us to secure some awesome swag and donations from many sponsors.  I was surprised by the amount of support many companies freely gave to us.  Our sponsors truly helped to make our even a success.  

2.  Everyone won't get it.  That's okay!

When I first began to plan this event, I was on cloud nine.  I just knew that everyone would thing this was a great idea.  I knew that everyone I reached out to would say, "Awesome!  What can we do to help you!"  Then, I began to reach out in my community, and reality set in really fast.  Many people that I thought would be supportive of this event, simply were not, and that is okay.  It's often hard for people to support things they don't know anything about.  In the beginning, it was a bit discouraging that I was unable to count on support from organizations and people that I truly believe in, but I quickly changed that tune.  I became determined to introduce them to an event they can support in the future.  I believe we were able to do just that.  I am extremely proud of what our Edcamp SW Dallas team was able to accomplish.  We were able to bring the Edcamp movment to a group of teachers and introduce them to the "unconference" model.  

3.  Not everyone attending Edcamp is tech savy.

The morning of Edcamp, we went around to each classroom that we might need and posted 3 things, an Edcamp SW Dallas log, a QR code, and a tinyurl.  The QR code was linked to the tinyurl for the day, a place to see the schedule and all of the session notes.  We also gave attendees a scavenger hunt to help them Tweet and share about the day.  During the general session, it was quiet apparent that many people in the room did not have QR readers, know how to use GoogleDocs, or have Twitter accounts.  During the first session block, there was a session to discuss Twitter.  While I do believe Edcamp is an excellent way to help teachers become connected outside of their four walls, in the future, I will take low tech attendees into consideration also.  We will have at least one paper copy of the sessions posted to ensure they at least know where to go.  We may also take a few minutes to discuss Twitter and GoogleDocs during the first session by having mini "unconference" conversations as we build the session board and share out before the day begins.

4. Plan with others outside of your "four walls"

When I first learned about the Edcamp movement earlier this year, I was blown away by this form of personalized professional development.  For a self proclaimed nerd, or life long learner, the idea of sitting around for an entire day with other forward thinking educators willing to allow you to pick their brains and share your knowledge on various educational related areas, I was head over heels in love!  Even before I attended my first Edcamp, I knew this was something I wanted to experience.  After my first Edcamp, I returned to my district and began to ask them who wanted to help me bring it to our area.  While this was a great idea, I should have also reached out to other educators in my area and others in my PLN to see who would be interested in helping me plan this event.  Reaching outside of my district for planning help and ideas would have helped to spread the word a lot better and boosted attendance.  At the end of the event, one of the survey questions asked who would like to help plan next year.  I am sure there will be grater ideas at the planning table next year with even better ideas.


The Giants of Edcamp!

2015 has been an amazing year for the Edcamp Foundation! There are no two ways about it! We have been able to establish a home office to support the work of edcamp people around the world. None of this would have been possible without all of the amazing people who have created the edcamp movement by their hard work, their energy and their joy! Most especially their joy! Edcamp people bubble over with the energy and enthusiasm that is edcamp and willingly work to continue this movement! 

The first giants in this movement are the local, volunteer Organizers, without whom there would be no edcamps around the world! These giants are the loyal folks who recognize the importance of sharing this experience of participant-driven professional development with as many other educators as they can. They meet and plan, some of them for edcamps that will attract 20 people and some for edcamps that attract hundreds. But no matter what the size of the edcamp, the sharing and community are the same. Without these amazing volunteers, edcamps simply wouldn't exist. It is their time, energy and commitment that make each and every one happen.

The other giants are the thousands and thousands of educators around the world who take time, usually on a Saturday, to attend an edcamp. They choose to use some of their precious time out of school to learn with other educators. Often teachers travel long distances to be part of an edcamp, sometimes planning their vacations around where they can participate in one. These people are giants of learning, who want to be part of a community of educators that is committed to growing and improving their practice, who believe that a life lived learning is the best life there can be. These are the people of edcamp, and they want to participate in as many as they can. They regularly encourage their colleagues to join them on this journey, seeking to share the experience and growth with others. And so the edcamp movement grows!

Because of these giants, both the organizers and the participants, the edcamp movement continues to expand and is gaining recognition as a significant strategy for professional development for teachers. The work of these giants has been recognized at the White House and by the Department of Education. The word is getting out that participant-driven professional development is powerful!

So to all of the giants of the edcamp movement, thank you, from all of us at the Edcamp Foundation! It is truly an honor to be able to serve you.

Happy New Year! 2016 will be wonderful! 




#EdcampGift Last Day!

Edcamp organizers are some of the most passionate and dedicated volunteers! They give freely of their time and talents to make edcamps happen all around the country and around the world. Because of their dedication and hard work, teachers are connecting, sharing and leaving with a new sense of commitment to their work with students. We want, on this final day of the #EdcampGift challenge, to highlight those organizers. Who do you want to celebrate for all that he or she has brought to the edcamp movement. We, as the edcamp community, would not exist without these organizers. So give one or more shout-outs to organizers that you want to celebrate, using the hashtag #EdcampGift.

We also want to thank Remind for sponsoring this ten-day challenge that has provided a forum for teachers to share their idea and win support for their local edcamps! This is the third year of their sponsorship, and we are deeply grateful for their ongoing commitment to the edcamp movement! 

#EdcampGift Day 9

What are your hopes for 2016? As you finish out 2015, think about what you want to set as a goal for the coming year. Share your goals with us, using #EdcampGift. Thanks to Remind, you might win $100 for your local Edcamp. 

Day 8 of #EdcampGift

Attending an edcamp is always so inspiring! Edcamps are a times to develop new friendships and collaborate with other passionate educators! Think back on your edcamp experiences. Who in particular has been inspirational for you? It might be more than one person; it might be a number of people. Tweet it out, #EdcampGift, and tell us why they had an impact on you. You may win $100 for your local edcamp, thanks to the generousity of Remind

Day 7 #EdcampGift

Parent-Teacher partnerships can be a powerful support for students. Share how you make that happen with the parents of your students. Use the hashtag #EdcampGift! Tweet out your strategies, and get the chance to win $100 for your local Edcamp! Three cheers to Remind for sponsoring this event!

#EdcampGift Week 2

Don't forget to share your ideas today during Day 6 of #EdcampGift! Share how students are connected to their learning in your classroom? What does it look like? Get the chance to win $100 for your local Edcamp, if your tweet is chosen! Share as many ideas as you want. We want to learn together! #EdcampGift Week 2

#EdcampGift Day 5

What do you do to be a lifelong learner? Where do you go to find out what is happening? What resources are you looking for? Tweet it out with the hashtag #EdcampGift and maybe you will win $100 for your local Edcamp, thanks to the generous donation from Remind! Share your thoughts, and let's learn together!

#EdcampGift Day 4

Where do you want to see the Edcamp movement in 2 or 5 or 10 years? What should we be doing now to make that happen? Share your ideas on Twitter, #EdcampGift! The best tweet, as chosen by a collection of Edcamp organizers, will receive a check for $100.00 for their local Edcamp. It is all due to a generous donation from Remind. Dream as broad and wide as you can! Thank you, Remind!

#EdcampGift: Share Your Thoughts!

Thanks to a generous donation from Remind, we are hosting #EdcampGift this week and next week! Keep your eyes out for the question of the day. Answer it in a tweet with the hashtag, #EdcampGift, to enter the contest. Each day, one tweet will be chosen as the best. Edcamp organizers and Remind educators are making the selections. A check for $100.00 will be sent to the Edcamp of the winner's choice. 

This is a fun way to share your favorite ideas about Edcamp and learning, as well as have the opportunity to win money to support your local Edcamp! Spread the word to all of your Edcamp friends! 

Here is today's question! Jump over to Twitter and answer it now!