This past weekend, I had the chance to attend EdcampNoVA in Arlington, VA. It was a longer drive, and the weary was as dreary as it could possibly be, but inside was warm, dry, and full of conversations and learning. From what I’d been told by veteran campers, every edcamp will vary in the way it is setup and run, as long as it follows the basic rules of edcamp. I knew to expect this.
Upon walking in, I was met by some familiar faces from VSTE. I grabbed some breakfast and sat down, mentally preparing myself for the day and looking around me. This particular camp was set up in the common space, and there were a few bits of swag on the tables. Off to one side was the schedule board, as well as the photo area. Lined up in another spot were the prizes to be given out at the end of edcamp.
I knew what I wanted to discuss this time around. For EdcampNoVA, there would be 3 total sessions. I put my post-its up for Minecraft, School Branding/Social Media, and Professional Development. When the schedule was put together, I decided to attend the School Branding session, the Minecraft session, and Issues in PD session. I was eager to get started, as were the others around me. This particular space had all of the room immediately off from the center, and would also utilize the common space once we started. Each room was given a city name to make it easy to locate.
I went off to my first session, but was disappointed to see that no one else showed up. There were many sessions running at once, so I’m sure they had to pick and choose between them. So I did what any good edcamper would do: I looked at the schedule and picked another session to head off to attend.
I ended up in a session on professional development, as I’m still developing my FlucoTECH plan for next year and am always curious to see what other districts are doing. Many of the districts represented in this session were large school districts. In some cases, the largest high school encompassed almost all of our student population! I spent a lot of time listening here until I could speak up in the conversation. I did take away a new idea for my FlucoTECH plan, and I was also able to share the ideas behind it with the group. I have learned that we have a very long way to go and that if I plan to make any kind of impact, I need to start finding ways to convince those admin at the very top that a mindset switch and culture switch are ways to begin heading down that path.
The first session flew by, and before I knew it I was heading off to the second session. This one was on Minecraft. A lot of people in this session were unaware of the program, or seeking ways to utilize it. I was able to talk about the after school program, and resources they could look into later on. I am a proponent of the game sure, but it does take teacher dedication. One of the attendees after the session said that the after school scene and Minecraft is where I need to be because I have so many ideas. I talked about building challenges as well, and I was encouraged to keep designing more, which I will. I want to do something for teachers, kind of like a Let’s Play thing, but I’ve not hashed out the finer details on that yet.
Before I knew it, it was time for the third session. This time I headed off to Issues in PD. We got to talking about time and ways to provide time for professional development. That became a big proponent. There was also talk of what other districts do. It was very helpful to have these conversations. I feel like I am heading on the right track with FlucoTECH now, and will need to get back to it to jot down my new ideas.
To wrap up EdcampNoVA, there was a demoslam after all of the sessions, where attendees had a minute and a half to talk about a tool or program. Ten people were able to present. Then there was the prize giveaway. This took awhile, but there were actually enough prizes for everyone, so everyone got something. I ended up with a yearlong subscription to InsertLearning. I have since passed this on to one of the ELA teachers I work with at the middle school because I want to see it utilized.
Instead of providing lunch, this edcamp had an after party instead. Anyone interested headed to a nearby Mexican restaurant for food and conversation. I can’t remember how many people were there, but we had a packed table, that’s for sure. I ended up staying over 2 hours more, and am glad I did.
EdcampNoVA will be running again this fall, but I’m not sure I will be able to attend. If I can though, I will certainly be back! Edcamps give me a way to recharge my batteries and find other passionate educators who want to learn and discuss from each other. This is always nice after being exposed to those who are less than passionate about growing and learning.
Want to attend an edcamp? Check out the official calendar here. It’s always being updated, so check back often for new camps!