This past Saturday, I headed down to South Milwaukee High School for a return to Edcamp Milwaukee after having to miss last year’s event. As one of the orgamizers of Edcamp Oshkosh, I know the power of Edcamps to energize staff, reinvigorate careers, open eyes, and simply…AMAZE.
A serious word has rolled around in my head since Saturday: maturation. Merriam-Webster defines maturation as “the process of developing to a desired level.” I sensed a “maturation” in Edcamp Milwaukee, and I posted several times about the phenomenal session board at this year’s Edcamp.
What made this board “mature” was not simply the diversity of topics but the quality of those topics. Yes, there were the usual topics like “Twitter for Beginners” and “iPad Apps” and “Google Apps For Education” and “Google+” and “Going 1:1.” But this year we started to see the impact of Edcamps past, a shift in teaching and learning, and improved PD in many school districts.
Since many teachers and administrators have started using the tools they learned about in years past, the majority of topics focused on instruction and improving student learning. The following topics reflect this shift:
- Teachers as Learners
- Crazy Cool Lessons Kids Would Pay to Experience
- 20% Project/Genius Hour
- Staff Development That Works
- Tech Coach – This Works For Me!
- Classroom Redesign
And the list, literally, goes on and on. This year I made a point to go outside of my comfort zone, so I attended three sessions not focused on technology. In my new role as a Technology Integration Coach, I will move to the middle school and elementary school levels for the first time in my 20-year career in education. I wanted to push my thinking and learn about topics I would never before have considered. Boy, am I glad I did so because I attended:
I also attended a session on Google+ where I shared some of my experiences with using Google+ Communities with my students and to facilitate professional development.
The Big Shift
We have even moved from merely learning how to use Google Apps to wanting to become certified educators and trainers.
After Edcamp, while waiting on a takeout pizza from Christianos in Green Lake, I received a post about a great opportunity for Fox Valley tech coaches coordinated by Kristi Shaw and Diane Doersch. We have moved from a handful of people even knowing about Google apps to having a need to collaborate and train the growing army of tech coaches being employed by school districts. The times, they are a changin’.
I made some great new connections, am working on a Patio PD idea with Chris See, Mr. Matera and Jason Bretzmann and am frantically trying to gamify an aspect of my Sports Literature class for the closing weeks of school.
After discussions with several new connections, I even think I’m ready to take the leap and become an “edupreneur.” Apparently, I have some expertise that people want me to share and they even want to pay me for that expertise. My consulting website is nearly complete, and I’m awaiting word on several opportunities.
What a difference a few years makes. I came to South Milwaukee High School in May of 2012 for the first Edcamp Milwaukee, excited but nervous because I didn’t know it would be filled with other folks just like me (yes, Tech Nerds). This year, the majority of people at Edcamp Milwaukee had never attended an EdCamp. Several other Edcamps also ran around the world on Saturday, including Edcamp Chicago, Edcamp Island, Edcamp NEPA, and Edcamp Sault.
Professional Development looks to be changing for the good, especially when teachers have choices in their learning.
I cannot wait to see what we learn at Edcamp Oshkosh in August.