Sault Ste. Marie’s first EdCamp was this past Saturday. As promised, here are some reflections on the event and on the learning.
There were some challenges, and some lessons learned.
When I made the poster for the event I included the web address (http://edcampsault.wordpress.com) but neglected on the poster to actually tell people to register. We started to worry that perhaps people were coming, but hadn’t told us they were coming. That makes ordering food kind of difficult. We ordered for an extra 1o people, so we had waaaay too much. I had my share of coffee (4 cups) but there was still a lot left.
We used a Google Form for registration, which worked very well. One for the “do it that way again next time” list.
Saturdays are tough at the best of times. This Saturday we were up against the OSSTF Annual General Meeting, basketball and volleyball camps, OAME 2014 (bus returned at 3am on Saturday), the PQP2 course in the Sault, and Mother’s Day (Sunday). There were a LOT of people who told me they wanted to be there but couldn’t because of prior commitments.
About half of the registered people actually attended (we had 12), so that meant we didn’t really need five breakout rooms. We dropped it down to two rooms, so participants had two topics to choose from at a time. If there were more people (I was hoping for 40), we could have had more options in each time slot.
Promotion was exceptionally difficult. It’s hard to get word out by email when people don’t really understand what EdCamp is about and how it works. I made a video, sent out flyers by email, and created a Facebook event. I’ll be interested in the feedback from participants about how they heard about EdCampSault.
“Building The Board” took a little while. We had planned for 30 minutes, so we gave everyone lots of time to write out their ideas and mark on the existing ideas that interested them. We built the morning first (2 sets of 2 sessions), then built the afternoon during the lunch break (3 sets of 2 sessions). We stuck to the schedule fairly well, except that people didn’t really use the transition time we planned for (they just kept talking and learning).
Here are the topics we settled on (links to Google Docs for notes):
|Room 1||Room 2|
|9:50-10:35||Strategies for helping students with anxiety||Digital assessment/portfolios|
|10:45-11:30||Assistive technology/students with ASD||Social media and teaching (Twitter, etc.)|
|1:40-2:10||Learning Goals and Success Criteria||Technology for keeping your teaching life organized|
The sessions themselves stuck fairly well to the topics. The Social Media session drifted a lot from what I was expecting, but that’s not a bad thing – it was a great conversation, and it brought in people from outside the room via Twitter.
Sometimes I have attended/hosted professional development sessions in which the overwhelming feeling was one of frustration: “I don’t have X so I can’t do Y in my classroom”; “that wouldn’t work in my classroom”; “you don’t understand how Z affects my school/classroom”. EdCampSault suffered from NONE of those sentiments. It was overwhelmingly positive, open, hopeful and thoughtful. The entire day felt awesome – we were working together to help one another as a community of teachers and learners, exactly it was supposed to be.
The learners were from a variety of roles (elementary, secondary, SERT, VP, program staff, composite school, alternative school, and outside agencies), so that helped to make the session topics diverse and the conversations rich.
I think I’ll save that for another post. I haven’t sorted through all of my learning here yet.
Yes, I think there should be a next time. I think we can hold it in the late fall or early winter (weather doesn’t matter much for a local event), and try to have more boards involved in promoting the event. Other than promotion, it’s not too difficult to organize (for me; Jenn Keenan did the heavy lifting). EdCampSault was a great opportunity, produced some great connections, and it will have a direct, positive impact on classrooms.