Yesterday was my first EdCamp experience, and since I’ve had about 24 hours to reflect and process, I offer some thoughts.
First, the format would be a cool way to run buliding staff development. It would take a bit of a culture shift in some buildings. But imagine if, instead of a principal/superintendent directed staff inservice, the teachers could create sessions based on what THEY needed? The teachers who are still a little trepidatious about technology could get directed help. The teachers who struggle with reaching students could collaborate. The teachers who see deficient use of school resources could create solutions.
We talk a lot about making content relevant to our students, so why can’t staff development content be relevant to us? And individualized?
Second, I loved the collaborative nature of EdCamp. The first session I attended was titled “Making the Most out of my iPod/iPhone/iPad.” I figured someone offered to run a session in which I would learn how to use my mobile devices better. So I was surprised when the person who offered the session said, “Well, I have one, and my kids have them, and I don’t really know how best to use them or what to use them for.”
And for the next hour, the people in the room offered ideas from essential apps to best practices for management. No guru led us through the wilderness. We didn’t need a guru. We had each other.
As I mentioned in my post yesterday, the biggest weakness of EdCamp Omaha was me and my shyness. I think I’ve become so comfy on Twitter, that I just hid there rather than talk face-to-face to the people I follow.
Now that I’ve seen how it works, next time I can be more confident in signing up for a session. Whether it’s something I already know how to do or something I might need some direction with, I don’t want to sit on the sidelines next year.
As with any conference, it is what you make of it. Our numbers thinned throughout the day. Faces I saw in the morning were gone in the afternoon. And that’s okay. To be honest, I wasn’t wild about the sessions slotted for the last one of the day. But I went to the session run by my colleague at school, just to show support for him, and it ended up being a great session.
But here’s the best thing about EdCamp Omaha: I didn’t feel conflicted about technology at the end.
Sometimes I attend EdTech conferences, and I feel like the focus is on the technology, or how much “fun” the kids will have, or how pencils are obsolete. And it frustrates me, because I didn’t become an educator only to be supplanted by robots.
At the end of EdCamp Omaha, I had real tools I will use in my classroom this week. I didn’t feel overwhelmed. And I didn’t feel like the robots were coming for my job.
So if you ever have a chance to attend an EdCamp, I recommend going.