Ask yourself this question: What is the best Professional Development session I have ever attended?
Think back to all of the PD sessions you have attended in your years as an educator. Which one was the best?
I attended my first Edcamp in August 2014. Edcamp Leadership provided me with the best PD sessions that I have ever participated in. The day proved to be a success, allowing me to learn from other educators, to share some of my own knowledge, and to establish connections to extend beyond the day. I walked away from the day with a better understanding of what it means to be a Connected Educator, and with a renewed enthusiasm for bringing the relevancy of Edcamp back to my own district.
This week, over 300 teachers and aides will attend our first district-wide Edcamp. Below are several critical points to consider when planning such an event in your own district:
Consider that district staff members might not have attended an Edcamp before. We have tried to convey the philosophy of the Edcamp movement to all staff members. Sharing videos of various Edcamp sessions, Smackdown sessions, and explaining the Rule of Two Feet prior to the day has helped to gain staff buy-in.
Try to plan something relevant for all educators. When planning our Edcamp, we made a critical decision regarding the structure of the day. In most cases, Edcamp sessions are decided on the day of the event, and led by attendees who choose the topics they wish to share. Because we did not want to put staff members “on the spot” for their first Edcamp experience, we chose to solicit presenters prior to the event and create a schedule so that educators knew exactly what sessions would be offered. I’m proud to say that we have 28 different topics/sessions for our first district Edcamp. Each session will be offered twice during the day, giving attendees multiple opportunities to join a session. In addition, topics cover a range of subjects, content areas, and interests.
Build in plenty of opportunity for sharing. One of my biggest takeaways from Edcamp Leadership was the amount of meaningful conversations that happened in between sessions or during the lunch break. There is no downtime during an Edcamp! With this in mind, we built plenty of time into the schedule for collaboration and sharing. Each session will run about 45 minutes, with 20 minutes in between sessions to allow for sharing. The Smackdown will also provide an additional opportunity for sharing!
Local and national vendors are willing to help. Be sure to reach out to local businesses. We were fortunate to have breakfast and coffee donated for our event, as well as a number of raffle prizes for attendees. With a little bit of time and effort, we were able to secure classroom technology, gift cards, and other donations. In addition, our Parent Teacher Organization was also able to help with our event.
Extend the learning of the day. We will be fortunate in that each of our presenters is available after the event to continue to share their knowledge. A schedule will be posted with links to session resources and notes for each topic. We are encouraging staff members to share a lesson idea, resource, website, strategy, app, or tech tool during the Smackdown session. Our goal is for relevant learning to take place. Educators should be able to return to their classroom with something to use!
As the popularity of Edcamps continue to increase, many educators will attempt to implement within their school districts. With considerable planning, and consideration to the needs of our staff, we are hopeful that our district Edcamp will deliver relevant learning and an enjoyable day! Kristen Swanson, who helped to organize the Edcamp movement, was extremely helpful as we planned this event. The Edcamp Model book from the Edcamp Foundation also proved to be a valuable resource.
By Rich Czyz @RACzyz
The Edcamp Foundation: The Edcamp Model: Powering Up Professional Learning.