I attended my first "unconference" yesterday.
If you're unfamiliar with edcamps, this article from edutopia gives a great synopsis of what they're all about.
"Something shifts when a group of motivated people get in the same room and direct their own experience: They share what’s working and what isn’t. They support each other. It’s both inspirational and incredibly practical. Anyone can ask for help and support – whether you’re looking for ideas for teaching the Civil War to middle schoolers, or resources to help make the case for allowing social media in the classroom."
I admit, I was a little apprehensive going into this. As a new teacher, I was afraid I wouldn't have much to contribute. Fortunately, that wasn't the case at all. I joined twitter the night before edcamp, and cannot believe what an incredible tool it is for professional networking. I'm hooked already! Everyone in attendance was welcoming and witty, and I felt comfortable from the start.
We broke into several sessions to discuss issues of interest to us, and I found myself offering insight from my (brief) experiences much more often than I would have imagined. I learned a great deal, especially about integrating technology into my lessons, and cannot wait to have my own classroom so I can start putting these excellent tools to use! If you're interested, I took notes on some of the sessions I attended. Our discussion on PLNs is viewable here, and our thoughts related to Sir Ken Robinson's argument for increasing creativity in the classroom is available here. Some fantastic teachers shared a list of their favorite tech tools here. There is a ton more information from edcampomaha on twitter and on the event's wiki.
I met some phenomenal new teachers who are currently in the graduate program I would LOVE to be a part of. We had lunch together and they gladly shared their experiences in the program with me. The only problem is that now I want to get going with it right away! This semester has been a true test of my patience. Subbing has its benefits, no doubt, but I am eager for my own classroom, my own students, and my own lessons.
If you attended edcampomaha, please share your thoughts on the day!