OK I am geeking out on you. I really want (and need) to reflect on Edcamp Bham, but having so much trouble finding a way to do that with out going on and on and on (which I will probably still do). So since I always tell my kids the scientific method fits everything they do, I’m gonna try to use it here.
Observation: So a year ago Edcamp tweets were coming out from my Philly Twitter friends and it caught my attention. It wasn’t until the tweets the day of the event that I totally got what Edcamp was really about. It was a free event and I saw the crazy-everyone signs up day of – board and how the session were done by teachers not people paid to attend. Everything about it was different than most conferences (I guess that is why it is an “un”conference) yet I was watching tweets from Edcamp and something about them were different. I knew from that day Edcamp was something I wanted to attend. So I started sending out the “Someone in the Southeast needs to do this” tweets, yet no one was really jumping to do so. I figured there was no way I could, so I was as usual waiting on someone else. Finally Dan Callahan said I should get with Chad Brannon. And that is where Edcamp Bham began…
Gather Information/Research: So it was a no brainer of who else we wanted on the Edcamp Bham Team. Chad & I immediately thought of Bryan Philips, Jeff Richardson, and Suzan Brandt. This is where I really started researching what Edcamp was and the more that happened the more I realized this is an amazing PD model. It was teachers teaching each other. It was informal, social, and full of learning. There wasn’t presenters preaching at people, there wasn’t people who are hocking their products, just teachers learning from one another. This is what would make Edcamp Bham so unique. This is what would make it the perfect PD.
State Hypothesis: We wanted Edcamp Bham to something that everyone who attended took something away that would be used in their classroom. In November held our breath as we opened up registration. I remember Chad and I discussing, if we can just get 50 people it would be a success.
Design: This part is just the details, not sure how it all came together lol. We decided on a date, April 30, 2011(it got moved around some) a place, Samford University, and a hope that this would be a success worth the time and effort. We asked for sponsors to pay for things needed. Do not think we ever even meet as a complete team, event the time we had burnt steak. We had location issues, the stresses of all finding a time to meet, food details getting messed up, etc. But the design of Edcamp that is is supposed to be simple and informal, or at least that is what I told myself as I started to stress. I think I answered 168 (that was my last count) emails from Sunday, April 24 to Wednesday, April 27 before everyone in the state lost power and couldn’t email. So many off periods were dedicated to phone calls and writing up info. But the team pulled it together and by 8:00, April 30 we were ready to go – though I hold a grudge to all who showed up early 😉 **I didn’t tell you this to bore you with details or to say look what I did, just letting you know what the “design” entails and that it was totally worth it!**
Perform Experiment: Edcamp finally got here and was a sigh of relief. Towards the end of the first session I finally began peaking in the rooms to see what was going on. I could hear convos and questions. This is what Edcamp is about! As the day went on I was totally loving hearing the convos, seeing the tweets that all focused around learning. I only got to go to one entire session (mine), hate I miss the one rated NC-17, but it was awesome seeing it from the outside. Seeing people get excited, seeing people help each other – THIS IS WHY EDCAMP BHAM WAS A MUST! People were actually excited about the Web 2.0 Smackdown, laughing, cheering. I keep saying convos here but it was a constant. As teachers we all know you learn bet from others, this was happening all around. Conversations lead to relationships.
Collect Data: Ok all I have is the qualitative data of observing people that day. I saw constant collaboration, discussions, and so much positive talk about education. I worry so often when educators get together there will be the more negative tone, it was not there. Through conversations with others I heard some positive feedback. I would love to have even more feedback from others.
Summarize Results: I think Edcamp Bham was a success, I am glad I got to be part of it. I hate that I did not have a chance to really spend time meeting new people or join in discussions. I am a very social person and love learning so it was heart wrenching to be working and missing it, but the work was worth it to see so much come together and see others learn. Most of you know my passion is professional development and seeing teachers learn new things that will be used in their classroom, so I did enjoy that! I hope everyone took something away that they plan on using just once. I did miss 2/5 of our team, they were helping friends and family that was affected by the devastating tornado to our community just days before (how you can help). Also, many people who were coming had horrible damage in their areas and were not able to make it. I hate that these key members did not make the event, I am sure they would have been huge assets.
Retest: Of course there will be an Edcamp Bham next year! Not the last week of April, last 3 yrs we have had tornadoes that week. Keep a look out for new dates!