Last weekend, I gave up my usual Saturday-of-fun to drive over to Madison, WI, and attend my first EdCamp. It was my first experience with the un-conference style, and I fell in love with it.
What is an EdCamp? It’s a grassroots type of organization for people who have an interest in all things education. In attendance last weekend were classroom teachers, media specialists, administrators, and even school board members! I’m sure most teachers have been to a conference before where they have to sign up a month in advance, choose from a static list of presentations, and then sit through those presentations, even if they weren’t exactly what you were looking for.
After having a delicious breakfast, we found our way into the Sun Prairie High School Auditorium. It was then and there that the magic started. We had a blank schedule template of the rooms and times that were available. People filed up, one by one, and offered their session proposals. The sticky notes were then arranged into the schedule, updated on the Google Spreadsheet, and off we were!
Another one of the things that I really liked about EdCamp was the emphasis on “vote with your feet.” If a session was not interesting to you, they highly encouraged you to get up, and go to something else. (I could not even imagine doing something like that at one of our Lutheran School conferences. It seems rude!) But, I did gather the courage to walk out of one session and then find something new.
What was really evident the whole day is that everyone wanted to be there. Many of the mandatory conferences my coworkers and I are expected to attend have a feeling of obligation hanging over the attendees, but EdCamp didn’t. Yet another thing that makes EdCamp a unique experience…
I really want to thank all the organizers of the Madison EdCamp for providing an awesome first experience. I want to thank the sponsors who made the event great, too! I’m drinking out of my Edutopia water bottle, and rocking the Kidblog pencils/magnets! I love the t-shirt I won as a prize, too.
If you’re looking for an EdCamp near you, head to http://edcamp.wikispaces.com and search the map for something happening in your area. EdCamp in Milwaukee is coming up on May 11th, and registration opens tomorrow, March 1st! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend, since I am already scheduled to work at our school’s track invitational that day.
Overall, the EdCamp structure is really awesome. The attendees are those who really care about the future of education! I’d encourage you all to get to one if you can!