Gear Up to Host your First EdCamp
With a bit of planning, hosting your first Edcamp can lead to an energizing day filled with meaningful learning for your fellow educators. I was part of a team that ran our first-ever Edcamp North Shore in Lynnfield Public Schools and wanted to share some of the steps we took that helped make our day a success. Before you consider hosting an Edcamp in your district, be sure to attend other Edcamp events to fully understand this unique “un-conference” model of professional development. Offer to volunteer the day of another Edcamp to get a behind-the-scenes viewpoint and make connections with the planning team so that you have a resource for your questions. The following tips will guide you through some of the long-range planning that will need to be done in order for your Edcamp to run smoothly.
1 – Recruit a Core Planning Team
Edcamps only happen because teachers volunteer their time to organize them. Identify a small, core team of 4 to 8 people that will work well together to share the work in the many months leading up to your event. It’s a good idea to include people from outside your district in this core group, especially someone who has been part of a core planning team for another Edcamp; their experience will be invaluable! Working with a multi-district team will also expand your reach both to potential attendees as well as vendor contacts for sponsorship.
2 – Select a Date for your Edcamp
The date of your Edcamp is one of the first things you need to decide upon when you begin planning. Of course you need to choose a date that works with the host school’s calendar and your core team, but be sure you check the complete Edcamp Calendar to avoid planning a date the either conflicts with or is very close to another Edcamp event in your state. Typically, Edcamp events are on Saturdays so that teachers are available to attend.
3 – Get the Word Out
Create a website, logo, and hashtag, and begin the social media push so that folks will “save the date” for your upcoming Edcamp. Consider asking your school’s art department to lend a hand with logo design. Use Weebly or WordPress to create a website where you can share information about your event and provide a sign up link. Submit your date, logo and website link to the master Edcamp.org spreadsheet so that it can be added to the complete Edcamp Calendar. Create a Twitter account for your Edcamp and decide on a hashtag to get the word out to your professional learning network. Reach out to organizations like MASCD, MassCUE and others to ask them to include information about your event in newsletters they send out to their membership. Make a list of school leaders in area schools and email them to invite them and ask them to share out to colleagues, too.
4 – Secure Funding & Donations
No one likes to ask for money, but Edcamps are expected to be free events, so sponsorships are essential. While your core planning team are volunteering their time, there will be costs that are unavoidable. Edcamps typically offer a light breakfast and lunch. Depending on the size of your event, plan on a fundraising goal of about $1500 – $2000. Reach out to multiple vendors that your school works with as well as range of professional organizations like MassCUE, MTA, MASCD, the Edcamp Foundation and others for cash donations. In addition to cash donations, ask companies for give-away donations. Regardless of the nature of a donation, be sure to acknowledge companies and organizations on your website, with signage the day of the event and via social media leading up to your Edcamp!
5 – Recruit Volunteers
As the date approaches, you will need more hands to help, especially on the day of the event for checking folks in and setting up food, the core planning team prepares for the day. Your core planning team should come up with a list of to-do items and delegate to those who are willing to lend a hand. We used the Edcamp Organizer Checklist as a starting point and found it to be very helpful. There are so many little details to consider, which is why lists are so important! If you’ve helped out at another Edcamp, chances are they’ll come and help you! Ask student organizations to volunteer some time and gain community service hours.
If you’ve never been to an Edcamp before, check out the calendar of events on the Edcamp.org site. It’s important to attend a few events before undertaking the work of hosting an Edcamp. We’d love to have you join us in Lynnfield in September 2017 for our second ever Edcamp North Shore!
About the Author: Jennifer Judkins provides on-going professional development as well as in-class support to teachers and students in grades K-12 as a Digital Learning Coordinator in the Lynnfield Public Schools District. Jenn is a Google for Education Certified Trainer, 2016 MassCUE Pathfinder and 2015 PBS Lead Digital Innovator. A regular presenter at regional and national conferences, Jenn is passionate about helping teachers gain confidence and proficiency in their use of technology. Jenn curates useful technology resources, tip sheets and integration ideas for educators on her blog, www.teachingforward.net and is a co-host on the TechEducator Podcast. She can be found on Twitter @TeachingForward
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