edcamp · education

#EdCampSWCT Reflection of an Organizer

Since starting this blog, I have been on a mission, one that really puts me outside my comfort zone.  It’s a mission to do more to impact learning.  This has led me to take on new and different adventures that have placed themselves in my hands.  And for an introvert personality, it sure pushes the limits of anxiety and tranquility!

One of the many adventures has been attending and running sessions at a few EdCamps (edcampnyc, edcampnj, edcampacessnj, edcampct, edcampleadership, edcamponline, and edcamphome).  I truly am passionate about Edcamps for they truly model engaging, purposeful professional development.  Learn more from the EdCamp Foundation.

So while Connecticut is not a large state, and EdCampCT has had great success, along with a cool model from EdCampRSD6  in Litchfield, CT, there can never be too many edcamps in one state in my opinion.  So Rob Pennington, Amy Traggianese and I decided to create EdCampSWCT.  Along with Joel Pardalis, Sean Hutchinson, James Sapia, and Frank Rodriguez, we took on this adventure.

Thanks to the experiences we all had at EdCamps ourselves and The EdCamp Model written by a team from the EdCamp Foundation and published by Corwin Press, the road was set to Saturday March 7, 2015.  This past week my anxiety to how the day would go spiked!  There is great fun in planning a new event, but there is also the fear of how it will turn out.  But as I heard recently…it is important to get outside our comfort zones to really create.

So the day arrived, and we descended on Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk.  Then the attendees arrived…and arrived…and arrived!  The pre-start conversation, connections, and collaborations filled the room.  People came from across the state, and even from upstate NY! Thanks @APGovME for bringing a crew of teachers over 3 1/2 hours to attend!  The board started to fill with amazing sessions, including four sessions being run by groups of students! How amazing is that! What better voices for education for teachers to listen to.

I know for myself I worried that the attendance would be low for it was the first time for this event, and we just came off a week of 3 snow/sleet/slop weather events, sessions wouldn’t be created, and it would just not go off without a hitch.  But quite the opposite occurred.  Quite a number of attendees were first time edcampers, so exciting! For them it was they hyper local aspect and half day time commitment that made it something for them to try…and many of them left excited to attend again and find others to attend!  People were eager, were engaged, and were enthusiastic.

For the first time in awhile, I didn’t run a session, but rather sat back and watched and listened to people, to conversations…and it was a cool place to be.  To know that I had a part in creating the day, with some amazing other educators, was exhilarating to realize as the morning unfolded. The day is truly about the participants, and being about to build the basis for that to occur is an honor.

So while I many have not slept much last week, and am drained today, I am excited to plan for next year already.  If we can plan an EdCamp, you can too, and you will gain so much if you do.  The EdCampSWCT was planned via Voxer, Google Hangouts, and Google Docs….we never once gathered live together to put it together. Some of these people I actually had never met, but that didn’t stop any of us, for we all shared a passion.

Bigger take away, if a group of 7 educators, who just had a vision and a passion, can create a day of amazing learning for over 100 educators with no pre-planned sessions, no big budget, and a few treats to eat, then what can we do better in our buildings for professional development (PD)?  While yes, some of the appeal in EdCamps is connecting and learning from people from other schools with varied experiences, don’t we have some of that in our own schools and districts?  I know personally there are things in my building happening that I would like to know more about and people I would like to sit and dialogue with about ideas, lessons, and the such.  But too often in education, the feeling is PD needs to be structured to be purposeful and educators are so busy they don’t stop to take the time to do so.     What if you gave inservice/meeting time a shift, brought in some treats, and gave educators the ability to build the time like an EdCamp?

I am taking that away as my lesson as an organizer of an EdCamp, but as people were leaving I heard attendees taking that away as a desire to have in their schools as well.  I feel privileged to have been part of the EdCampSWCT team, and am so glad I went out of my comfort zone to put the day into action.

Haven’t attended an EdCamp? Find one!

Want to plan an EdCamp? Find others who want to as well and dive in!  First one done is all you need to prove it is worth it.

Thanks Rob, Amy, Joel, Sean, Jimmy, and Frank!

iplante_2015-Mar-07

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