Monday, April 28, 2014

Hosting EdCamp TLC: A True Labor of Love

Wow! The time has come for Karen's and my culminating activity for CTA's Teacher Leadership Cohort project. We had been spending almost a year building professional development in our districts. We had been focusing on the needs of our teachers and educators to create, lead, connect, and build their confidence in their teaching methods. We had been given (and continue to be given) countless opportunities to share with not only educators in our districts, but to educators across the state. We have truly been blessed to share, learn, and connect our knowledge with others.

So, after months of preparations and road blocks, EdCamp TLC finally arrived. 

I have been to several EdCamps before, and I hoped that EdCamp TLC would meet the expectations I had in my own mind: that educators will come together to share, collaborate, learn, and connect. 

Thanks to all of our sponsors!
I got up incredibly early and arrived at Teacher's College of San Joaquin to begin set up. Karen and I had all the essentials, coffee and breakfast items, as well as the "swag bags" and giveaways ready. 

As 8:30AM rolled around, attendees began showing. We checked them in, added them to Class Dojo for our giveaways. Excitement was building! But would it be the EdCamp, Karen and I envisioned?

As attendees checked in, grabbed breakfast, we encouraged them to add ideas to the session board. Anything that they were interested in, curious about, wanted to share, etc. As many had never experienced an EdCamp before (just one!), Karen and I did add to the session board to jump start the process. Before long, attendees were chatting, connecting, and adding their thoughts and interests to the session board.

Session board

Things were falling together!

Session building had begun! I love the organic process of EdCamps. Participants are truly in charge of their professional growth and the sessions created did reflect that. We had topics ranging from Smart Tech, Social Media and PD, webpage design, Genius Hour, Math Web Tools, Web 2.0, Remind101, Flipped Class, Edmodo, iPad Apps (Doceri, Educreations, etc.), GAFE Certification, and Blogging/Writing Technologies. It was truly exciting to see such a list created by teachers and for teachers! What a day of learning we had ahead of us!

Rooms began to buzz once sessions began. Although many were brand new to the EdCamp experience, all were excited to learn. Discussions began to flow, the sharing of knowledge grew, and excitement continued to build. We may have been a small group, but we were mighty and eager!

As the day drew to a close, we had one more activity to connect all participants: the one, the only "Things that SUCK"! I love "Things that SUCK"! I was first introduced to this concept at my very first EdCamp SV North. "Things that SUCK" is simply, it is a discussion, a debate, and/or a conversation on topics that affect those in the room. This activity can be done for staff meetings, education, non-education (I am getting my husband to do this in his business office!), even with your students! It is a powerful way to see just how others think and share their points of view in a wonderful and fun way. Bill Selak shares more on recreating this activity here.

Many of our participants agreed on quite a bit of topics, however, the most "controversial" was on "cute classrooms"! Who knew! Thanks to David Theriault for that topic! But, as always, it was fun, fair, and another way to share and connect with passionate educators.

The overall goal was to connect and inspire. I met a great bunch of educators that continually want to learn and grow in their profession. Educators who are willing to move out of their comfort zone to gain new heights.

I think Karen and I did just that. As we later learned that Michael Saunders blogged his about his experience at EdCamp TLC. What did he discover? 

 And now, Michael wants to create an EdCamp in his area (I am so THERE!). 

Did we accomplish our goal? I think so. Just like we need to encourage and model collaboration with our students, Sir Ken Robinson reminds us what education and learning is all about. 

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