7-11 was a special day for me. I didn't get a free slurpee, but I did get something else for free that was so much better. 7-11 was the day I experienced my first Edcamp. Eight of my colleagues and I met at 6 A.M. to make the two hour drive to Battle Creek, MI for nErDcampbc. Even though it was bright and early, we chattered the entire way there about books we've read, how Twitter has helped us learn and grow, our families, and our feelings of anticipation as we got closer to our destination. We had our own little culture of learning in that car and I was blessed to be a part of it.
Throughout the day, between the outstanding sessions and my tornado of tweets about them, my mind kept wandering to all the ways this experience IS a culture of learning. There are probably more than five ways, but these are the ones that stick out in my mind.
5. Edcamps build excitement.
As soon as we arrived, we 'nerded out'. The car was not even at a complete stop and car doors were flung open. Maybe a couple of people even ran, or jogged, to the registration table. *wink*
A culture of learning should be like this. Can you imagine students or educators arriving to school each day like this?
4. Edcamps provide choice.
A critical element in a culture of learning is choice. Learners should have the ability to take charge of their learning. Edcamps do just this. We spent almost 30 minutes in the morning and again after lunch brainstorming topics that we wanted to learn about. These topics were turned into sessions and added to the session board. The session board was like the menu at Dairy Queen. I wanted one of everything! Our choices continued in the sessions. If we joined a room and found that the topic wasn't for us, we could move on to another room. Autonomy at it's finest.
3. Edcamps encourage risk-taking.
My hat is off to everyone who stepped up to lead a session. There were over 200 people in attendance and educators volunteered to facilitate sessions without any preparation time. They put themselves out there and were vulnerable. It's scary to speak in front of a group of smart people. I am especially proud of my colleagues Martie Piechowski (@smartiepies) and Tonya Brownfield (@TonyaBrownfield). These ladies were encouraged by some other attendees to lead a discussion on how to encourage reluctant readers. They were nervous about this and took the risk. They facilitated a great discussion and kept notes here.
2. Edcamps inspire learners.
At the end of the day, participants were asked to come to the microphone and share what they learned. I was inspired by the passion of each person who shared and especially touched by Colby Sharp's students. These girls spoke about how much they enjoyed the book talk session. I was fortunate to be a part of that session and they were blowing me away with their book recommendations. One of the girls told me that she read 150 books as a student in Colby's class (where a culture of learning obviously exists).
These girls were on fire! Colby Sharp's students
1. Edcamps build relationships.
The best part of nErDcampbc was connecting with people. I had time to talk with my colleagues about life and learning. We created memories that I will cherish forever. I was able to meet the faces of the brains that I have followed and admired on Twitter. And as a bonus, I met so many new people who I have added to my PLN.
I'm looking forward to nErDcampbc 2014. If you haven't experienced an Edcamp, then you don't know what you're missing. Give it a try. You won't be sorry. You can find a list of Edcamps near you here. Who knows, maybe an Edcamp that I help organize will be on this list one day!
Swartz Creek teachers with nErDcampbc organizers