Tuesday, July 5, 2016

10 Reasons to Check Out an Edcamp

If you haven't yet been to an edcamp yet and you are an educator on Twitter then you have probably heard of them. You may be asking yourself "should I go spend a Saturday or Sunday with a bunch of other educators having no idea what I might be learning about??" The short answer is yes, yes you should. The long answer is yes, yes you should.

Here are 10 reasons why you NEED to check out an edcamp near you!

1. It's FREE. Free awesome PD.
Edcamps are totally free. You just have to get there and usually you will need to provide your own lunch. No one is getting paid to do all of this work so you are immediately surrounded by people who are invested in the day of learning, collaborating and connecting.

2. You choose what you want to learn about.
The participants decide the topics, set the schedule and it is made that very day. Topics that matter to YOU are the focus of the sessions. Choice and voice!

3. The rule of two feet.
One of the coolest "rules" of edcamp is that if a session isn't working for you, it isn't what you thought it would be or if you want to try to "session hop" then you can just get up and go. No hurt feelings, no one asks why, you just go. It's your day of learning so get the most out of it.

4. The room is the expert!
Educators learning from each other. No powerpoint presentations here! I have learned more from an hour long edcamp session than I have from a day long pd presentation. The difference is that everyone is sharing, collaborating and learning from one another. No one is the "expert". Sure there are facilitators and sometimes questions are directed to the person who is most familiar with the topic but all participants are highly encouraged to share their questions, thoughts and knowledge too.

5. Knock down the walls and connect with teachers from across the county, state or country!
I would have never had to opportunity to meet with other amazing educators from districts even right next to mine if it weren't for the edcamps I have attended. It's eye opening to realize how little we get out of our district PD comfort zone and local edcamps are a great way to network with other educators and get a different perspective on the same topic.

6. Meet your professional learning network in real life.
One of the BEST parts of conferences is getting to meet your online professional learning network (PLN) in real life. Edcamps are a perfect place to meet up face to face. The casual atmosphere and ability to choose your own sessions leads to amazing collaboration with other educators you know but may never have met face to face!

7. Share YOUR awesome.
Looking to dip your toe in the world of leading professional development? Take the leap and be a facilitator at an edcamp! It's the perfect, low pressure opportunity to share your knowledge and take the lead a bit. Just keep the conversation flowing and share resources. Not ready to facilitate? You can be a huge help to others in the group by sharing your knowledge and resources with them. Exchange Twitter handles and/or email addresses to keep the conversations going long after the edcamp is over.

8. Reignite your passion for teaching.
What better way to get that fire back than by being around a group of passionate educators who are CHOOSING to be there and learning with you. It's exciting! What a way to get pumped up and learn some great new tips, tricks and tools to take back to the classroom with you!

9. Step out of your comfort zone.
It's a free and you can leave if it doesn't meet your needs so why not check out something totally out of your wheelhouse? You may never have thought about teaching/learning computer science but think it's interesting so go check out a session on it! Maybe you teach kindergarten but are curious about how high school teachers are using blogging. You never know where your educational journey may take you so check out topics or sessions that interest you!

10. It's FUN!
One word... PRIZES! In addition to the incredible learning opportunities, most edcamps have some really awesome raffle prizes! The organizers of these events work hard to make this a fun experience for all attendees. Just put on your party pants and register for an edcamp near you!