Twenty Edcamps

20 things edcamp

Yesterday I attended my 20th edcamp! I know this is not a world record, but it still feels like a monumental accomplishment based on what I have gained from the combined experiences. To justify to other teachers why I have given up so much of my free time since 2011 to attend edcamps, here are the twenty things (in alphabetic order) about the past twenty edcamps that I have loved … and the reason I am not stopping at twenty.

  1. Books and Blogs – Some edcamps I have walked away with impressive reading lists for professional literature based on powerful conversations. Edcamps are informal presentations, so people do not have the research visually disseminated through PowerPoint. I don’t need that anyway; I like being able to read deeper for the topics that truly interest me.  
  2. Classroom Design – This is an accidental take away. There are often cute bulletin boards I snap a picture of or seating arrangements I like in a school that is hosting the edcamp. They didn’t set it up for us, but that does not mean I don’t learn from it.
  3. Comaraderie – I have gotten closer to some of the people I work with through edcamp. It is not forced like normal professional development, so we get to be ourselves. The real us have a feeling of friendship, the work us tend to be stressed about something.
  4. Fame – I’m not exactly famous (yet), but I like to think of it as the Seven Degrees of Separation from edcampers. I can often make connections to people from either previous edcamps we both attended or by knowing a colleague of theirs.  
  5. Food – This is not a pre-req for me loving an event, but food and coffee never hurt the learning. There have been some stand out breakfast/lunches/desserts. Edcamp Seacoast had the most delicious food options for meals. I am proud of our cupcake bar at Edcamp Harrisburg.
  6. Growth MindsetCarol Dweck’s definition of growth vs fixed has really taken off in education recently. As was pointed out yesterday, we are surrounded by the growth mindset at edcamp. I pregame my teaching with learning.It is a positive learning environment.
  7. Humor – Some edcamps take learning seriously, but often there is fun and laughter. The evidence of this is pictures that get posted to event hashtags, like the Photo Wall with props at Edcamp Hershey.
  8. Memories – I remember specific moments at each edcamp foundly. I have become that person who always has a story: “this one time at edcamp…”
  9. Monday Mornings – Yes, you read that correctly. I am excited to try things Monday morning. That excitement had been lost until I found edcamps.
  10. People – The people make the event by being willing to attend and have conversations. I am always happy to meet people of diverse education backgrounds to get unique ideas for the same situation. I have attended edcamps with teachers, private school teachers, multiple disability teachers, administrators, aides, outside service providers, parents, and a few students. Everyone is welcome to attend edcamp and everyone is acknowledged as possessing important knowledge. There is no social stratification. We learn together. This is a major different to a traditional conference.   
  11. Planning Events – It is awesome when people are so excited about their edcamp experience that they want to plan their own. I love providing my insight and resources I found helpful (including other blog posts about edcamp). It made a good session yesterday but sometimes it is just an informal conversation over coffee about the first steps to take.
  12. PLN – While this sounds like cheating/repeating people, I consider this the continued connection and sharing with the same people I valued meeting face-to-face. Edcamp does not lead to one and done learning opportunities.
  13. Questions – The status quo is comfortable, but sometimes I needed to ask myself ‘why do I do it that way?’ Often my status quo matches those teaching around me, so they would not have made me realize there were other considerations. Edcamps inspire questions because of the diverse people in attendance.
  14. Reminders – Frequently at edcamp I hear something and realize, oh yeah, I’ve heard of that before and never checked it out. The reaffirmation of it’s awesomeness is normally a sign it’s worthy of the time to explore.
  15. Strategies – I don’t always think in terms of labeled strategies; personally I know what works and does not in my classroom, but it is good to hear new strategies to try. Every year the students are unique, so you might need that new strategy. I have found great inspiration for strategies to support less traditional students, like ones way below grade level or with definiance issues. Luckily I do not have endless personal wisdom to draw from, so I needed a support system that edcamp provided.
  16. Swag – Someone at an edcamp said “FREE is a teacher’s favorite F word.” I have walked away with great swag and door prizes I have won. I would not have realized how valuable Flocabulary was in my classroom without winning the free subscription at my first Edcamp Philly.
  17. Teacher Leaders – I absolutely consider myself a teacher leader, and when at edcamp, my voice is appreciated and heard. The majority of edcamps are not planned by administrators, but by teachers. Edcamp is teacher driven professional development.
  18. Tech Smackdown – The tech smackdown can even be appreciated when stalking an edcamp hashtag. Often the list is shared on Twitter. I have found so many great resources through tech smackdowns.
  19. Travel – I love any excuse to travel, and edcamps provide that. I have road tripped to many destinations with friends and we bonded in the car and got to spend the drive home reflecting and sharing great ideas. Yesterday I shared the Edcamp Calendar with another group of teachers; they were planning their next road trip together, and for my guidance I was rewarded with an invitation to be part of their bus.
  20. Value – not only do I find the events valuable, but I leave the event feeling valued. Other educators made the effort to plan the day and sponsors believed in education enough to provide goodies for us to enjoy. A free bagel and a smile in the morning can go a long way. When I feel valued I do not hesitate to put in the extra time at school or to create the individualized resources to help students.

About Lisa Butler

Middle school geography teacher, tech trainer, Flocabulary MC, Nearpod PioNear, and Edcamp Hershey Founder. I have embraced the power of purposeful technology and am creative with their application. If I am not doing something with ed or tech, I am probably reading children's books, baking with a toddler sidekick, running around, or dreaming of traveling.
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