being a teacher, edcamp

So I Survived My First EdCamp

There I sat in the corner, carefully checking my Twitter, had I been discovered?  Was I going to speak to anyone or just spend the day lurking in the corners, learning and tweeting away but with no human contact, shouldn’t be so hard.  This was already looking like any other conference I have ever been to; I would learn by myself and then go home and blog about it.  And then something happened; after about 1 minute of sitting there,  I get a message from Josh @Stumpteacher asking me if I am sitting in the corner.  Two minutes pass and a woman comes up and asks me if I am 4thgrdteach, yes…  Turns out to be my friend Katie @TheTeachingGame who I give an impromptu hug to.  Now I am a hugger, but I have never hugged someone who should be a stranger before and yet with Katie I was like a reunion.  Welcome to EdCamp Chicago, my very first unconference and my first conference after getting on Twitter.

What followed was a day of stimulating conversation, a lot of laughs, and a lot of connections.  So what were my biggest take away’s?  Well, the connections were incredible. Every day I pour my heart on on this blog and on Twitter, so to have people come up and tell me that they know who I am and like what I write, really was mind-blowing for this small town girl.  Also, to get a chance to sit down and speak to some of the educators I learn from myself was incredible.  The different experiences, stories, and perspectives really offered me a jolt of knowledge.

I also learned a lot about myself.  I can speak in front of peers that I respect even if I have not met them before.  I can also voice my opinion without being too bullheaded about it.  I learned that somehow I am making meaningful connections with people that I have met through Twitter.  It was also amazing to hear other non-present people’s names being brought into the conversation and others recognizing the names.  It truly showed just how connected one can be on Twitter.

And finally, the idea of regular people setting the agenda, offering choice, and impromptu conversations, really played into my belief that we must offer our students choice.  I chose to leave one session because I was not adding anything useful to it, instead we created a smack down which was incredible.  I chose to be part of a session on grading, because it is something I am passionate about.  I chose what I wanted to learn, how I wanted to be challenged, so my stake was personal and I was more engaged.  That is what we should offer our students as well.

So did I get inspired, sure, but mostly I had my spirit renewed.  There are passionate educators out there who have no problem with spending an entire Saturday discussing how we best can reach students.  That is incredible.  There are people out there who have no qualms of telling you exactly how they feel even if they disagree with you, but also this sense of not being alone.  I often reach to Twitter to be inspired, but I often walk away with new energy and new passion.  EdCampChicago did that for me as well.  I am sad that I will not be at ISTE this year, but hopeful that next year will be my year for truly making the face-to-face connections.  I will be there in spirit.

9 thoughts on “So I Survived My First EdCamp”

  1. This is how I felt when I attended EdCampOmaha. It was exciting to meet face to face, people I talk to or listen to almost every night. I walked away with lots of new ideas to try. More than that, I felt connected to others who share my passion. I liked the idea that everyone was respected and invited to share their expertise. I would like to see the EdCamp model used in my district professional development.

  2. I was glad that I was tied to home yesterday so I could follow #edcamp hashtags on Twitter. I hope that I can experience an edcamp or teachmeet soon. These unconferences sound so inspiring and invigorating. Thanks for sharing your experience. I have been reading your blog for the past few weeks. You, along with Joe Bower, are part of my inspiration to significantly reimagine the classroom where I teach and guide. Thanks for your honest reflections!

  3. Great blog post about edcampchicago! It was my first experience with an un-conference, as well, and it was just fascinating how quickly the ball got rolling in so many different directions…at our own hands! Simple, and incredible, and just what we want our students to experience in our own classrooms. Kudos on all those who set it up! I'd love to see something like an "edcampFoxCities" around here (in Wisconsin)someday soon! 😀

  4. Pernille,I know the kind of feeling you were experiencing at #edcampChicago. I joined Twitter several months ahead of attending NECC 09 (now ISTE) in Washington, D.C. What a different experience it was then the previous year in San Antonio (NECC2008), where I attended sessions alone, went to eat by myself, and had very few meaningful conversations. Having a PLN changed all of that. In D.C. I felt like I was truly at a reunion with old friends. The experience was life changing. I finally had a complete understanding of how a PLN works. I'm so glad you didn't hang out it a corner all day because you have so much to offer. I'm glad others got to hear your "voice".

  5. In the past month I have attended edcampbham and then a non-conference with other elementary teachers in our district. I have made connections thar would have never been made in a traditional PD setting. We already have made plans to meet throughout the summer to learn more from each other and to collaborate for projects across different schools. You are right, you cannot help but be refueled with passion listening to others ideas. And laughing with joy instead of laughing at the absurdity during PD sessions is different and a most welcome change!

  6. I went to the zoo and came back to 6 comments. Thank you all for sharing your own experiences and voices as well. It was truly an experience I will not forget because it showed me what meaningful PD can look like. Now, how do we get this incorporated into our districts and schools rather than the stagnant method employed now?

  7. Sounds like you had a much needed pick me up to carry you through the end of the year. Must say, reading your tweets during the unconference got me excited for EdcampNYC, which I fully intend to attend this year. As for how we get this model filtered into more places, it seems to me we need to first get people to rekindle the passion that brought them to the profession in the first place. But how?

  8. Thanks for putting this into words, Pernille! I just went to my first edcamp last Saturday as well at #educampwelly in New Zealand. I had a similar experience in terms of meeting my online colleagues. It was amazing. These connections are so important when it comes to keeping ourselves energised for a meaningful day in the classroom.

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