Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Reflection on EdCampMadWI

Pernille Ripp has already posted her reflection aboutEdCampMadWI with her need to wear comfortable shoes for the next EdCamp.  I did wear my most comfortable sandals, and was I ever happy because I was running around a lot during EdCampMadWI.  To continue with this metaphore, let’s get this reflection on EdCampMadWI off and running…

EdCampMadWI was the first time that I had a major role in planning an EdCamp.  I was a volunteer at others, so I was able to attend all sessions.  However, this time, I had to make sure that all of the food was set up, so I wasn’t able to attend many sessions.  I was able to pop into a few sessions and ask questions or give advice, but it was a much different experience than I’ve had in the past.  Yet, it didn’t bother me one bit that I couldn’t participate in the discussion as much because so many of my colleagues were there!  They were in sessions sharing their knowledge and learning.  The experience motivated them, and they finally stopped looking at me funny when I profess my love of EdCamp.  Like many others, they felt motivated and enjoyed their day. 

Marshall High School staff members at EdCamp.
I'm running around in the back somewhere.
Continually, the question of how to spread the word of EdCamp to those not connected through Twitter or other social media is asked.  I believe that the attendees of EdCamp need to talk to their coworkers and drag them along.  I’ve attended four previous EdCamps.  After each one, I went back to my staff and said how wonderful they were.  My wonderful friend and colleague, Allison Fuelling, followed me to EdCampChicago. She was a witness of the impact of EdCamps.  She helped convince our colleagues that they needed to come to EdCampMadWI because it was close to home. All of the Marshall Staff members enjoyed the day, and next time, I think more will come.  We need to spread the word to other teachers and administration that EdCamps are about more than technology, that they can learn or discuss anything they want.  Imagine if an entire district came to an EdCamp; wouldn’t that be one powerful day?

Since so many of my colleagues were there, the inevitable discussion came up of how to make in-service more like an EdCamp. My principal kept pushing back in the discussion with the main argument that at an in-service, there is not intrinsic motivation of the teachers to learn.  At EdCamp, everyone is there because they want to be. The want to be there cannot be recreated at an in-service.  I’m not sure how much I agree with that statement.  In one-on-one discussions, I think everyone wants to be good at their job.  Teachers should be willing to learn new things or have discussions on how to make things better.  Isn’t it possible to have expectations that they will discuss?  My principal was open to the idea, as he had a good day at EdCamp, but accountability always seems to get in the way of meaningful in-service.  If you have any ideas on this, please leave a comment below.

This blog post wouldn’t be complete without the mention of my awesome co-planners.  Jess started organizing during lunch at EdCamp Oskosh.  She put it out on Twitter and Pernille, Kaye, and I got on board. It was a little overwhelming to be thanked by so many of the participants (I also got an offer to be the number caller at the next church bingo event).  I’m glad that I was able to help people come together for a day to learn from each other.  Really, I should be thanking all of the attendees because that is the power of an EdCamp.  I just made sure you all were fed.

We’ll do it again.  EdCamps are so refreshing because you can realize that as educators, we are not alone.  Others have the same problems, and they solutions we haven’t thought of yet.   Stay tuned and spread the word about the power of EdCamps.