Sunday, April 3, 2016

Thoughts on EdCamp

Thoughts on Edcamp

I attended my first Edcamp this past summer, Edcamp CT.  It was an enlightening experience that has profoundly impacted my views on professional development.

An Edcamp Primer

What are Edcamps?
Information on Edcamps, from the source:  "Organic, participant-driven professional learning experiences created by educators, for educators."  Participants arrive, add a session or pose a question to an available time and room on the conference schedule, attend sessions (or leave them mid-session as desired), then finish with a "smack down" where participants have a chance to share their learning. The Edcamp I went to had a Google "living room" where participants in each session could have discussions and add notes, and access these materials later.
The conference board from the Edcamp I attended as it was starting to be filled by conference attendees.
Who attends Edcamps?
Edcamps are open to teachers, parents, students, and administrators.  The one I went to included a mix of educators from different levels of schooling from the states in my area, including Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey.  As a former high school French teacher, I learned much talking to educators with different specialties from elementary and middle schools

My Edcamp experience
Since I have left the classroom, social media has helped me stay connected to the trends in education. I learned about this Edcamp from Twitter, and was thrilled to move off of the waiting list.

Whoah now!
When I walked in and saw the conference board, I was overwhelmed. It was the first time I had entered a conference and been asked, "What do YOU, Amanda, want to learn today?  What workshops would enrich your own learning?  What questions would you like to explore?"  I had many meaningful conversations with educators, and found the attendees to be friendly, interested, interesting, engaging and engaged.  The different viewpoints and experiences, combined with the open-mindedness and honesty of attendees, led to many deep discussions, and, I believe, changes in practice.

What did I learn about?
I attended four different sessions (including one that I proposed):
  • Google Classroom:  It can be a powerful tool as a learning management system, and the personal experiences of the presenters in the classroom makes me believe that this is a useful platform for students.
  • Apps:  Nearpod.  A great tool for interactive presentations with students.  I also learned about Periscope.
  • How can I prevent difficult phone calls and conversations with parents?  As a teacher, it is important to give parents and students a framework for teacher contact, and to create systems for sharing information with parents.
  • World language teachers:  There is a wide range of teacher practices in regards to integrated performance assessments and proficiency-based teaching and learning.
How has this edcamp impacted my beliefs about professional development?
It was an affirmation of the power of teacher-led professional development.

What's next?
I had such a positive experience that I am looking to attend other Edcamps in the future. I have also partnered with three other teachers (two of whom were at the same Edcamp) to make an Edcamp for world language teachers.  It is on 4/9/16 in Wethersfield, CT.  We would love to see you there!

Have you attended any edcamps?  How were your experiences?  

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