Over the past six months, the buzz has been growing in NJ; an “un-conference” that was driven by teachers, workshops that were decided that morning, and great conversations about education. It all came to fruition this past weekend, and to be quite honest, I’m still speechless about how much EdCampNJ rocked.
Last week, I got an email with reminders that was sent to all participants; there was a quick blurb about how help would be appreciated for set-up on Friday; so I replied and showed up on Friday afternoon after school. There, I met the nucleus of EdCampNJ; the educators that put all of this together. Educators, Administrators, and even some Central Office folk were there… and the best part – all left their titles at the door and were working together to ensure that everything was set up. At one point, I ran out with a Superintendent to go get balloons. Would two central office administrators ever be told by elementary teachers to go run out and get balloons in their own district?! Doubtful. But this was EdCamp – this was different – this was awesome.
What’s so great about EdCamp? Simple – – it’s a simple format with simple rules. You register in advance (free), bring your technology (very tech-driven), and if you want to present, you place it on the schedule board. If you don’t like what you hear, or want to check out another presentation, do it. Back-channeling, tweeting, and chatter is encouraged, along with leaving a workshop if this is not your thing.
The day began with a #SATCHAT session in the cafeteria; this was attended by about 30 teachers and was streamed live. It also had guest speakers who were streamed in and linked up from Boston. Afterwards, over 250 attendees gathered to kick things off. Think about that – – 250 attendees attending on a Saturday morning, in December, on their own time. That speaks for itself!
The learning commenced; attendees went to rooms via the Guidebook App or checking the main wall outside of the cafeteria. Four workshops later, and a SMACKDOWN sharing session, and the proverbial conference give-aways, the day came to a close. Once of the coolest parts? The organizers lined up to cheer & clap all participants on a superb day.
Other cool parts? A few tables were filled with toys & school supplies for Hurricane Sandy victims, sweatshirts & T-Shirts were purchased for Sandy relief, and the ridiculous amount of networking that took place by everyone. I got to meet legends on Twitter, awesome teachers, supervisors, building administrators, and yes, central office personnel as well.
I also signed up to be the official tweeter for the day. Tweeting under @EdCampNJ, I bounced from room to room, getting to see, hear, and interact with participants and their workshops. That morning, I decided to do a workshop myself on google jockeying (see my previous post); the workshop was attending by about a dozen attendees.
I know this post must seem scattered. That’s because my brain is still scattered from all of the learning that took place. This was an awesome, awesome experience and I was so happy to help out where I could and attend. I can’t wait for EdCampNJ 2013.
Please visit edcampnj.org for a plethora of information.