EdCamp is coming to Atlanta! Don’t know what an Edcamp is? EdCamps are “unconferences” for educators. Edutopia has an interesting article that explains this participant-driven professional development by educators for educators. Co-founders Wanda Hopkins McClure and Nikki Robertson explain EdCamp Atlanta’s vision below:
Collaboration, communication, critical thinking skills, problem solving, technology education - if you’re an educator in this century, you’ve heard those terms. Edcamp’s are built on collaboration and innovation. I found Edcamp quite by accident in a Twitter chat on education reform. My passion is inspiring, equipping, and connecting educators to collaborate and communicate together to share best practices so that every student everywhere can reach his or her best potential. I’m obsessed with moving education forward and my biggest frustration? While we are charged as educators to teach collaboration, innovation, and critical thinking, few educators collaborate themselves with their peers across the unwritten boundaries between public, private, independent, and charter education. In fact, most prefer to war about those differences.
I had been reading Clayton Christensen’s classic work, Disrupting Class, and learning my way around the language of innovation, strategy, and design thinking as an “innocat” on Innochat. Good stuff I felt worked, could bring educators together, could be useful in connecting ideas and people in education to spark a new paradigm in learning and teaching in professional development.
Enter Mike Ritzius. It can be a challenge to be convey a lot of meaning in 140 characters, but Mike knows how to make things happen in his school and in his work at EdCamp Philly. So, I followed his tweet stream and began to watch, read, and research the innovative ideas that were coming out of this group. My PLN (professional learning network) on Twitter included Dan Callahan from Edcamp Boston and I began to be more and more intrigued, inspired, and interested in finding an Edcamp to attend.
Guess what? No EdCamp Atlanta. What!? Over 90 Edcamps in every major metropolitan area and internationally - but no EdCamp Atlanta. So, I tweeted to the Twitterverse - “When is EdCamp Atlanta coming?” My reply - “Tag, you’re it! We’ll help!” Be careful what you tweet!
Dan connected Nikki to me a couple of days later and so begins the epic. Organizers soon followed including the Dream Team of Tracy Shultz, Shervette Miller, Catherine Flippen, and Janelle Wilson. Their profiles are on the website along with the other innovative educators who are helping to organize and lead sessions for this event. Go read about them, check out their work, follow them.
Last year I was faced with two choices. A quick, three day trip to Jamaica or attend my first EdCamp in Birmingham, Alabama. Attending an EdCamp was a decision I will never regret making. It transformed my life professionally and personally. Jamaica can wait! I was so inspired after attending EdCamp Birmingham that I wanted to attend more EdCamp events. I search for an EdCamp Atlanta and was left empty handed. I put out tweets for others interested in starting an EdCamp Atlanta and received some interest but no concrete action came from these connections. Then, just a few short weeks ago, I connected with Wanda McClure and the stars aligned and EdCamp Atlanta was born.
I'm excited to be a part of this dynamic group of forward thinking educators to bring the EdCamp experience to Georgia!
Pictured are the stars that have made EdCamp Atlanta a reality. Each one of us possesses unique strengths and talents that together build the perfect team.
Left: Tracy Schutz @tracyschutz, Shervette Miller @ATLTeach, Cutia Blunt @Appsforclass, Ron McAllister @rondmac, Greg Walkup @teamwalkup, Nikki Robertson @NikkiDRobertson, Jaime Vandergrift @JaimeVanderG (via Google Hangout), Wanda McClure @WandaMcClure, Kendrick Myers @MyersMr
Right: Shelley Paul @lottascales, Paula Boston @paulaboston, Kathy Shields @KathyDShields, Angie Griffin @AngieEdDirector, Glenda Wheatley @gewheatley, Cindy Dixon @DixonCindy
Here is a Blast from the Past Blog Post about my first EdCamp Experience:
The weekend of April 29th-May 2nd, 2011 was a momentous one. The 2nd worst tornado in the history of the U.S. devastated Alabama and other parts of the south, leaving over 18 schools severely damaged. Then we all received the news that Osama Bin Laden had been killed in a strategic maneuver courtesy of the US Navy SEALS. Sandwiched between these two historic events was EdCamp Birmingham (#edcampbham); a historic event itself.
EdCamp Birmingham can best be described as a Woodstock style professional development day attended by education mavens from schools in and around Alabama. Attendees were greeted with a blank session board, index cards, and sharpies. If you had a subject you wanted to brainstorm or a presentation tucked away you simply wrote it on an index card and attached it to the session board. The topics varied widely from Using QR Codes in the Classroom to Teaching 2030. No matter the subject, the presentations were fresh, lively, exciting and anything but passive. Every person in a session was the “presenter”, creating what could best be described as a giant Vulcan mind meld!
One of the most notable moments of EdCampBham was the Web 2.0 Smackdown that took place right after lunch. During this Smackdown event EdCampBham attendees had one minute to share a web 2.0 site with the rest of the group. I got fired up learning about new tools to share with the educators in my district and PLNs. (http://www.scribd.com/full/54613521?access_key=key-sr926gcnjpqrb7i3eh)
The highlight of the entire weekend was meeting my professional idol @cybraryman1, Mr. Jerry Blumengarten, and his lovely wife Gail. I met @cybraryman1 at my first Tweet Up event the night before EdCampBham, thus enabling me to cross two goals off my Bucket List. If you are unfamiliar with @cybraryman1 (shame on you) take a gander at his website: http://www.cybraryman.com/index.html . It has become my educational go to site and should be yours as well.
The first EdCampBham Tweet Up took place at Jackson’s Grill & Bar and was a perfect way to meet EdCampBham attendees in a casual setting. Ideas raced faster than Usain St. Leo Bolt as various discussions took place around good food and drinks. One last Tweet Up took place after EdCampBham had ended at Brio’s, a tasty Italian restaurant. I was grateful for this as I was not ready to leave the presence of such dedicated, knowledgeable educators. If you have a chance to participate in a Tweet Up with people of this magnitude I would highly recommend it.
If you missed EdCampBham or the EdCamp in your area (http://edcamp.wikispaces.com/home) be sure to keep an eye out for it next year. It is a must for every innovative educator.
You can access other blog entries and more information about EdCampBham at:http://edcampbham.wikispaces.com/Edcamp+Reflections
EdCamp Atlanta’s mission:
Transformative Teaching | Innovative Learning
Edcamp Atlanta is an open “un-conference” committed to reaching all educators in public, private, charter, and higher ed environments with innovative learning using pioneering technologies and instructional strategies to transform teaching for all students.
Paying it forward...
EdCampATL on Flickr