Tuesday, July 8, 2014

It Starts with a Dream...An #Edcampconnect Success Story

Farrah (me) and Cara explaining how an edcamp works

About two years ago I attended my first ever Edcamp with my good friend, Cara, and we were completely blown away! Having never even heard of an UNconference, we didn't really know what to expect but our experience was completely amazing. The next year we visited another edcamp and thoroughly enjoyed it as well. It is so amazing to go to a professional development day that has a schedule literally planned by the participants. The networking, the collaborative nature of the sessions, and the fun atmosphere of it all really drew us in. We even led an impromptu session!

It was on the ride home that we agreed we MUST do something like this in our own area. In our county there are three school systems. In addition to having participants from all around join in, Cara and I envisioned our three local school systems coming together to share ideas and collaborate on our first ever edcamp, which the team decided to call Edcamp Connect. 

That's what's so amazing about Edcamp Connect. It turned out to be a great success, but it all started out as a dream to do something for the educators in our community. I began sending emails to our central office staff, and they agreed to be a part of the team. They pulled in team members from the other systems, and before we knew it we were having monthly planning meetings, soliciting sponsors, and designing our website!
EdcampConnect Planning Team

I feel extremely blessed to be a part of a system and have neighboring systems that not only support the type of learning that takes place at an unconference, but are part of the organization team. Two systems' superintendents were even present yesterday! I've learned so much and enjoyed working with the members of the other systems. Each team member contributed and was a valuable part of the team. To me, the partnerships we've forged have been the most meaningful thing to come from our edcamp experience. It feels a little like my twitter PLN, but having them close by is a bonus. 

Going in to this my biggest worry was that people would not show up. Then I worried that if they showed up, we would not have a full schedule board. Thankfully, neither of those things happened! We had over 150 participants from numerous school systems, and about 7-8 sessions per time period. We had plenty of food and drinks, and the feedback so far has been positive. I can't wait to get started planning next year's edcamp!

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped organize, facilitate, donate, pray (yep, Edcamp Connect was on my church's prayer list), participate, tweet, sponsor, or work in any way to make Edcamp Connect a success. There are too many of you to try and list here on this blog (cue the Academy Awards music), but please know that I am grateful to all of you. Edcamp Connect may have started with a conversation in the car, but the final product was due to lots of collaboration and hard work on the part of many dedicated individuals. 

Check out a few of our highlights:




If you were there, I'd love to hear any feedback you're willing to leave. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad that you and Cara had a vision for an EdCamp in our local area. EdCampConnect was such a fun day for me - that's right I said a PD day was fun. There was such a great atmosphere, where people were able to make friends with other teachers in the area. Even though I am an Etowah County teacher, I was able to actually meet other Etowah County teachers along with Gadsden City and Attalla City teachers for the first time.

    Before going to EdCamp Connect, I didn't really know what to expect. If you've never been to an unconference before, it's hard to wrap your brain around the concept. On paper, it may seem destined to fail, but the fact is it was one of the best days of PD I've ever been able to attend. Now that I've been, I see so many possibilities for EdCamp Connect. As great as it was, I want to encourage more of the great teachers at my home school to attend and bring their ideas to others, and I want teachers from other schools to do the same. The only problem I had at EdCamp Connect was choosing which session I wanted to attend, because there were many that interested me.

    While the people managing EdCamp Connect made it look easy, I have no doubt that it took a LOT of time and effort to make it a success. Thank you to all of those who worked to make it what it was! I also want to thank the wonderful sponsors who donated food and other items! I can't wait for 2015!

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