Sunday, January 21, 2018

What kind of PD makes teachers smile? And on Saturday? EDCAMP


Year five of Edcamp GigCity is in the books. It was in a fabulous location- Red Bank Middle School in Chattanooga, TN- and it had fabulous attendees. According to the feedback form most left as very happy campers! (pun intended).

Things I learned:
  • Oops on the schedule. We accidentally used the schedule from 2 years ago instead of last year so the sign up said 9-2 but the day was laid out as 9-3. We also had adjusted times down to 45 minutes last year but the old schedule had the sessions at an hour. Our bad! We apologize for that oversight and promise it won't happen again.
  • Many hands make the burden light. WOW! What an amazing organizing committee we had this year. Being the lead for the last 3 years, I am finally learning how to delegate and trust the team. I was not disappointed. Sure am thankful for a wonderful group of fellow educators. What many people probably don't know is that this is all volunteer led and run, and Edcamp Gigcity is unique in that the organizers represent higher ed, lower ed, public, and private school sectors. I love that about our edcamp! This uniqueness opens the door for collaborative thinking way beyond the walls of the school house, the district, and even the city! I can't even begin to say how much I appreciate the following organizers that planned along with me this year:
    • Dr. Karen Adsit, Education Professor at The University of Tennessee of Chattanooga
    • Greg Bagby, Principal at Barger Academy
    • Jim David, STEM School administrator 
    • Kimberly Elbakidze, Computer Science Instructor at Red Bank Middle School
    • Evonne Hackett, Technology Teacher at Lakeview Middle School
    • Julie King, Middle School Librarian at The Baylor School
    • Arthur Williams, K-5 Instructional Technologist at Lakeside Academy
  • We need to make sure we explain how edcamps work a little better for new attendees. Often people are a bit overwhelmed by the "no presenters" and "rule of 2 feet" if it is their first edcamp. We need to make sure we provide more insight on how edcamps got started and why it is so organic in nature.  
  • The EdCamp philosophy makes people smile. All day long I watched as people moved around from room to room at EdCamp Gigcity with smiles on their faces. I couldn't help but ask myself, "Is this what you see when you lead PD at school?" And I answered myself (because I'm weird like that) "Not usually." So why do educators like edcamps? I have 3 theories:
    • Choice- Educators are at least college graduates and sometimes/often even have advanced degrees...they love Edcamps because they get to choose what they learn about instead of being forced into a PD that may or may not interest, help, or pertain to them. 
    • Voice- Educators get to ask questions and share their concerns and fears in a safe non-threatening environment. The beauty of our edcamp is that it isn't "district led" so the voices they are in a room with aren't necessarily the ones they usually hear from so it adds a freedom to learn from others. The value of being heard is important to everyone, the nature of edcamps is active participation no matter what your level of understanding. 
    • Free- The event is free, the food is free, and the door prizes are both awesome and free. How does that make an educator feel? VALUED. For some educators, they rarely have the opportunity to learn outside of their school building because of cost or time. Edcamps show teachers that they are appreciated and important by creating platforms for them to learn without other things hanging over them- like lesson plans for subs and money.
  • Being an #EdcampGigCity organizer make me a more connected educator. This is year five of our edcamp and every year I walk away with new edufriendships, knowledge, and ideas that I know I have a safety net for if I have more questions. Like all conferences, you get what you put into it. Allowing yourself to connect with others and hear what other schools and districts are doing brings value back to yourself and your school/district. I'm thankful for the opportunity to connect in such a big way to the Chattanooga are. #CHAedu