Before I attended my first EdCamp, back in February, I seriously thought, “what could I possibly learn from this experience?” The short answer to that question is, as much as I want to about anything I want to learn about. During that first EdCamp (ICE EdCamp after Dark) I figured that I would go all in and offer up sessions on maker spaces/the maker movement and gamification. I had learned enough about these emerging topics in education to be dangerous. What surprised me about the EdCamp experience was that there were other people in the session about maker spaces that knew a lot more about the topics than I did but in the session on gamification I was the one who shared a lot of the resources I had, offered up basic explanations, and co-moderated the discussion. It was kind of scary and exhilarating at the same time.
I now have three EdCamps under my belt (EdCampIowa – Bettendorf and EdCampTC – Burnsville, MN) and I am planning a trip to EdCampMKE – Milwaukee. Four EdCamps in four months in four different states! You might be asking yourself, “why has this guy who is just a substitute teacher become an EdCamp junkie?” The short answer is because I learn about anything I want to learn about and I get to meet fellow teachers and administrators who are also life-long learners.
The EdCamp experience has helped me build relationships with people in the larger educational community in the Midwest as well as opened my mind to new ideas about education. Teachers learning from each other and sharing with each other as professionals while enjoying each others company is leading to many long-term relationships.
Yesterday (a Saturday), I woke up at 4 AM to get ready to attend EdCampTC. I have known some of the other attendees via twitter for a few months, so I was really looking forward to meeting many new friends and learning and sharing with a new group of people. My second tweet of the day, before the EdCamp even started was, “What kind of teacher gets up at 4 am to drive 2 1/2 hrs to attend
#EdCampTC ? The kind that’s dedicated to his students & the profession!” I learned about coding, resources for building apps, some ideas for genius hour/P3BL (problem-passion-project based learning), ideas for maker spaces. I also shared and co-moderated sessions on P3BL and gamification/game based learning and got to spend time talking with friends over an extended lunch. Twenty-four hours later I am still continuing the discussions (via Twitter) and learning from yesterday as well as planning how I can use these ideas to help my students learn how to learn better. If you still have doubts about the power of EdCamps, then read these two articles 10 Myths About Edcamp and It Made Me Tweetless.
Does this make me a better teacher? Yup. Was this a cheap and efficient way to do quality professional development? Yup. Will my students benefit from the time I spent at EdCamps? Yup. Will my school district benefit from my attendance at these professional development opportunities? If they value me as a professional dedicated to self improvement and putting students first, Yup. See you at an EdCamp soon!