I must confess that I still consider myself to be an EdCamp newbie. I attended my first EdCamp last May at the University of Pennsylvania. EdCamp Philly. Wow! I had heard of the unconference style of professional development before, but I could have never imagined how life-changing attending that first conference would be. It is not hyperbole to state that EdCamp changed the way that I thought not only about professional development, but how I thought about my teaching style. The connections and collaborations that I made at the first conference really spurred me to become more involved in helping other newbies find the conversations and resources that I had at my first EdCamp. So, that's why I volunteered to help plan the 2014 EdCamp Philly.
past Friday, and I must confess, I felt more than a bit nervous. I was asked to sit down with Kevin Jarrett, Mary Beth Hertz, Kim Sivick, and so many of the enthusiastic and engaged educators that I have been following online for years. Who was I?! (In case you were wondering, that's me in the stripes.) I felt like a teenage fan girl sitting at the table with so many well-connected teachers. But I should have known better. Not only did this group welcome me, but the same sense of excitement about learning and collaborating with one another that I felt at that first EdCamp was palpable around the planning table.
EdCampHill up in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, I knew that I had to step outside my comfort zone and not just listen to the conversations that others were having, but lead one. As session suggestions were being posted to the board, I made my move, volunteering to lead a session on flipped learning. What a great conversation. Unlike other conferences where a presenter talks at the teachers in the room, EdCamp is all about conversations. My session was just that. I shared a bit about what I've been doing the past couple of years, and then others in the room shared their experiences, raised questions, and discussed. I didn't have a slide show ready. Honestly, I wasn't even connected to the internet for my session. Instead, another session participant keep some notes on an open Google Doc for our session, which I later added to. And this is probably the best example of why EdCamp works. It is professional development that is tailored to what you want to learn about, but perhaps most importantly, it is about the connections. Those face-to-face dialogues that move our thinking forward, that get us questioning and reflecting on our roles in the classroom, and that have us sharing ideas with the person sitting next to your are invaluable. And that's why I am all in.