You’ve seen all the hype. You’ve taken a leap of faith and have registered for your first edcamp. You are excited and nervous all at the same time. Your big questions right now are:
- What is expected of me?
- How do I get the most from this edcamp?
- What do I do after this edcamp is over?
These questions are quite common. Every edcamp veteran was at one time or another in your shoes. We all started with our first edcamp. Let’s get your questions answered.
What is expected of me?
All participants are expected to participate. I know that sounds really simplistic. It is still true. Edcamps are participant driven. When you arrive, you will be greeted, checked in, and encouraged to put on a name tag. Have some fun with it. Don’t be afraid to let your creativity show. If you are a black marker on a white sticker kind of person, that’s perfectly fine as well. You will also be asked about what you want to learn and/or share. Remember this isn’t a conference. You won’t be expected to produce a presentation about any topic. In fact, such presentations are frowned upon.
You may be asked to facilitate a session. Don’t shy away from that. All that means is that you are going to welcome everyone into a space, ask the first question (typically something along the lines of “What do you know about said topic?”). If no one knows much, encourage the group to jump in and research right there on the spot. Remember the goal is not to find THE answer but to find THE people that will work together to find which answers work and which ones do not.
Introverted tip: Don’t be afraid to say no thank you if you are asked to facilitate. Please do muster the courage to share during the session about what is and is not working for you. Your insights may be just the thing someone else was looking for.
While vendors are not allowed to promote their product at edcamps, they do play a valuable role in education today. If you happen to be a vendor, please don’t take over the conversation. Listen, take notes, ask questions, and above all, be up front and honest about your purpose for attending the edcamp. Also, please don’t skew the conversation towards your product. Most educators are perfectly willing to tell you what they need, but feel cheated and dishonored when you try to sneak in some market research.
How do I get the most from this edcamp?
Remember, edcamps are not conferences. There won’t be someone directing your learning from a lectern. Your learning depends entirely upon you. A little bit of work before you arrive will go a long way to making the day more to your liking. Doing some research into what you want to learn will help you know what else you want to know about a topic. Don’t expect to find an expert on a specific app, but do expect to find people using that app to do amazing things in the classroom.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Don’t be afraid to share. Being honest with yourself and other participants about what you need will go a long way to making sure you leave with new knowledge and a deeper appreciation for what you do every day. Everyone realizes how difficult it is to open up, especially around strangers. How many times have we told our students not to be afraid to ask a question? Same principle applies at edcamps for participants. You never know when your question is exactly the question someone else needed to ask.
Introverted tip: Write your questions in advance. That way you won’t feel unprepared and can share with a neighbor during a session if you need someone else to speak up.
What do I do after this edcamp is over?
There are several things you can do when the edcamp is over. You can (and should) share with your co-workers what you learned. Many of them may have wanted to go but for one reason or another just couldn’t make it work out. Look over your notes, or review the social media feed for the topics that meant the most to you. Start brainstorming ideas to use in your classroom. You can also apply for an Edcamp Impact Grant (more information here). Impact grants are provided to support the learning you experienced at an edcamp.
Most of all, when your first edcamp is over start looking for your next edcamp. You’ll be glad you did.
Special thanks to John Edelson (@VSpellCityMayor) for his encouraging words in Twitter that led directly to this additional blog post. (https://twitter.com/VSpellCityMayor/status/981564748654198785)
Check out my previous post: The Edcamp Questions