#whyIedcamp? As I continue to attend EdCamps the question as to why continues to change after every event and experience.
I attended my first EdCamp, EdCampNJ, in Springfield, NJ about a year ago after I kept seeing #edcampnj all over Twitter. Admittedly, I had no idea what the day would entail. My first experience was eye-opening. Eye-opening because I was able to connect with educators who think similarly, share similar experiences, and were willing to learn from each other. This is where I caught the bug and began attending subsequent EdCamps. I thought this is #whyIedcamp.
A few months later I attended another event, EdCamp Central Jersey in North Plainfield, NJ. The morning of I said to myself that at this event I was going to challenge myself and present/facilitate a session. My first experience facilitating a session was very positive. I was able to have the experience of fostering an enlighting conversation, not because of me, but because of the educators in attendance. I thought again, this is #whyIedcamp.
Early this year I attended EdCampUrban in Union City, NJ. This event was the first organized by a group of educators serving students in urban settings. At this event, I decided to facilitate a session on a topic new to me, Breakout EDU. Usually, I like to focus on Google for Education's G Suite. My session was again a success thanks to the great educators who participated in the activity. However, what I took away most from that day in October was how lively, interested, and eager the attendees were, despite being a bit hesitant and unsure of what would happen that day. Listening to the conversations, hearing the questions asked, and hearing educators say they were willing to try something new they learned that day. This was the first time many of these educators were provided with such an opportunity. Again, I left saying to myself this is #whyIedcamp.
Most recently I attended the fifth annual EdCampNJ. This was the first time I was joined by my colleagues. All previous EdCamps I attended by myself. I was finally able to convince them to attend after my many stories as to #whyIedcamp. The days leading up I informed them as to how the day was going to work and what they could expect. Most importantly, I advised them to go in with an open mind. As we sat and talked before the event started we met so many educators, eagerly watched as the session board was updated, and discussed which session we would attend. The atmosphere in the room was energetic, and it was hard to decide which sessions would suit us best. This is where the rule of two feet came into play, and some of them saw this as a positive.
After the morning sessions, we came back together and talked about the sessions we attended. We talked about how open and comfortable the experience was thus far. We talked about how we could use something we just learned. We talked about what topics would be posted for the afternoon sessions. We were all excited for the day to continue. After the afternoon sessions, we came back together again and briefly debriefed the day. This was done all organically, as the intent of EdCamp. The conversation even continued when we returned to school. They even told their stories to other staff members with the hope of convincing them to attend an EdCamp in the future.
My colleagues overwhelmingly had a positive experience. Some cannot wait to attend their next EdCamp. Some stated they wished EdCampNJ was more than once a year. They all appreciated the organization, the freedom, and the conversations that occurred during the day. I appreciated they all had a positive experience, shared, and learned. This was a new and fulfilling reason as to #whyIedcamp.