A few years ago, I was introduced to Edcamp and my first experience with an unconference. What’s an unconference you ask? An unconference is a professional development event where the attendees build the schedule of sessions on the spot! No one shows up with a pre-made slideshow, or a lecture that’s ready to go. Edcamp is discussion-based and spontaneous. Educators and other professionals gather to discuss what’s on their minds.
One of the things I like best about Edcamp is the “Rule of 2 Feet.” If you’ve ever been to a professional development event, I’m sure you’ve found yourself in a session that wasn’t quite what you expected. Maybe the topic looked better on paper. Maybe the presenter wasn’t engaging enough for you. Or maybe you just wanted to check out another session that was scheduled at the same time. At Edcamp, if you find yourself in any of those situations, you’re encouraged to get up and move on! No one is offended or hurt. Everyone is there for the same purpose – to learn and connect! Oh, did I say connect? Another fantastic feature of Edcamp is the community. Attendees are encouraged to share their experience both through Twitter and in the shared Google documents set up by the facilitators. Both methods provide a lasting record of the day’s learning and sharing. At any time, you can go back and review what was discussed in a session, or connect with other educators on Twitter. The sense of community is amazing at Edcamp!
Still not sure? Watch this quick video!
After attending many an Edcamp, I was hooked. I’ve been to Edcamp Boston, Edcamp Grafton, and Edcamp Cape Cod, but noticed that there were no events in my neck of the woods. I bit the bullet and asked some fabulous colleagues if they’d be interested in founding an Edcamp in our area. They agreed! Our team was formed and the next thing I knew, Edcamp Southeastern Massachusetts was born! We were added to the official calendar on the Edcamp Foundation’s wiki site and we were off to the races.
I have to say that I couldn’t imagine a better group of professionals to work with throughout the planning stages of this event. Rayna Freedman, Karen Winsper, and Kim Zajac are amazing educators! We worked so well together and complemented one another’s skills. We had a great partnership between the neighboring school districts of Mansfield and Norton. After nearly a year of planning, our inaugural Edcamp Southeastern Massachusetts ran this past Saturday!
We were generously hosted by Norton Middle School in Norton, MA and were supported by 30 businesses to make this great day of professional development FREE for all! We had 120 educators register for the event, representing nearly 30 districts from around the state. The sessions created by the attendees were very diverse! Topics included Google, formative assessments, library media specialists, BreakoutEDU, digital storytelling, the growth mindset, makerspaces, and the fan favorite “Ask Me Anything” (a student panel). We also had some special folks volunteer their time to help with setup, cleanup, and jumping in wherever needed. Thank you to the students from both Mansfield and Norton, parents, and educators Julie Giglia, Lydia Nelson, and Jim d’Entremont. We couldn’t have done it without you!
We truly had a fantastic day of learning. We already can’t wait for what’s in store for Edcamp Southeastern Massachusetts in 2017 and hope to see you there!
Some quick links for Edcamp Southeastern Massachusetts:
- Edcamp Southeastern Massachusetts website
- Session Board (check here to see session notes)
- Smackdown Resources Shared
- Twitter feed for #EdcampSEMass
About the blogger: Jacqueline Prester is a business and technology teacher at Mansfield High School. She has been nationally recognized for her contributions to education in technology, financial literacy, entrepreneurship and STEM integration. Jacqueline was the 2015 Massachusetts Business Teacher of the Year, a 2016 finalist for the Massachusetts STEM Teacher of the Year, and a 2017 semi-finalist for the Massachusetts Teacher of the Year. She currently serves on the Board of Directors and as the Treasurer for MassCUE, on the Board of Directors and as the Secretary for the Massachusetts Business Educators Association, and co-founded Edcamp Southeastern Massachusetts. Connect with her on Twitter @mrsprester or at mrsprester.com.
This blog post was relaunched on mbea-ma.org with permission from the blogger. You may find the original post HERE.