My opportunity to help facilitate an in-district edcamp has come and gone and I want to share the results with you, both the official results and my personal observations. Not that they differ so much, but I can tell you things. And when I tell you things you understand that I am critical sometimes because I am impatient for change, make detailed lists of things which could have gone better because I want to do better, or I want to save you some work in the future.
Our edcamp served fewer than 75 people, I only knew of one other person present who has been to an edcamp before, which was probably a good circumstance for us. I think we could have provided the participants a better experience. However, I will say, I think we introduced an idea which turned on their ‘teacher brain,’ and I know that when that starts working improvements are inevitable. I feel confident people could turn around tomorrow and do it better than we did already – and that has to be okay.
Two factors I would have changed which could have improved participant experience: date in relationship to the holiday break and access to the complete list of participants.
8:30-11:30AM on the first day back in January – Happy New Year – it’s edcamp. Today is the day, the day you are lucky you wore pants and remembered you had a job. Seriously though, I would have felt better about relying on facilities to be open, areas in the shape I expected, displays in working order, and WIFI tested more recently than 24 days ago. Personally, I had also just spent 7 days in Florida, so I was just a bit off my tip-top. Everything we had committed to do was ready in time.
And my team purposefully did not over-commit because we had seen some limitations on the horizon. We did not have access to the name/email list prior to the event and have to rely on someone else to communicate for us. I would have preferred to have access to the email list myself, but it was the first time we worked with this other person and I think now we have a better trust between us. If we had an email list and sufficient time to email the group we could have had more time to solicit ideas for sessions and appropriately represent the variety of participants.
Ummm, we killed this. killed. it. The space rocked. We had nothing to do with it, but dang it was good. Check it out in my official work review – everyone wants this space.
It would have been nice to offer refreshments. This was impractical due to the “enough notice” issue in addition to it would have been at a personal cost. I would not always be opposed to that, but coming off Christmas and vacation. That’s a pipe dream.
I was so stinking busy working on “the experience speaking for itself” I did not prepare opening/closing remarks thoroughly. Small, silly detail which I can totally nail next time. Who is in charge of reminding me that it isn’t selfless to neglect to set aside time to plan this, but is kind of selfish when you cannot get to the point and get off the stage at an edcamp? Lesson learned I hope.
I don’t mean to brag, but we mastered wait time that day probably like we never did during any administrator’s observation.
Start ’em and Walk Away
I would find a large group or one which had not started talking yet and step to the middle/front and offer that a good way to start is to introduce yourself and something you know/wonder or would like to ask about the topic. I would then ask someone to start and then fade into the background. I heard from some participants that in some cases all they were able to do was finish introductions and then they were out of time. I also heard that some sessions had only people with questions and no answers. Did they mean to make me smile? I don’t know, but I feel good about the start that we gave some people if not the finish that they were hoping for.
Is Somebody Coming?
A great YouTube my work group loves is Stuck on an Escalator. And I think everyone has moments where they are waiting for someone to come and tell them what to do next. Teachers are no different. One of the edcamp participants asked if someone was coming to teach them about a certain topic and it sounds like a moment of disequilibrium, where you say one thing and figure out another. Because if no one is coming that means we can share and learn anything, anyway we want about this topic!
What is Next?
This was a great trial run. I have some friends I think should help me create a bigger area edcamp…. do you know who you are?