Written by: Dr. Sam Fecich @SFecich, Jordyn Pistilli @jordyn_pistilli, Hannah Sansom @HannahJSansom, and Jessie Pyle @JessieJPyle
After attending Edcamp Pittsburgh, we were all excited about the type of professional development. Before we knew it, we were getting our EdCamp Startup box and planning with Sam in her office and our coffees in hand. To-Dos were delegated and we all started planning and getting things rolling. EdCamp GCC is an unconference: a professional development opportunity that is personalized to meet the needs of those attending. Upon registration, attendees post topics that they wish to learn more about or feel as though they can offer insight. These topics then create a schedule for the day. There is no formal speaker for each session. Rather, educators come together to share ideas, ask questions, and learn from each other about those topics.
One way that we decided to plan our edcamp is by defining roles and setting up everyone for success. We first set up a group team in Microsoft Teams and anyone who was interested in helping out identified a role that they would like to take on. Individuals could choose to be a Day Of Volunteer or Year-Round Volunteer. Let’s look into each of these areas.
Because of schedules being so busy, consider creating a day-of helper role for those who don’t have as much time to give. This role is perfect for student teachers and Edcamp newbies. They can assist in set-up, tear-down, registration table, and more! It is also a great way to make sure people are as involved as their schedule allows.
Day of volunteers – These roles are great for students who are in a time crunch, student teaching in the spring, or first-time attendees to an EdCamp, but still want to help. Day-of volunteers are the backbone of our Edcamp. They include greeters, Tinkerlounge demonstrators, facilitators, and prize patrol runners. The commitment to a day of volunteering is that s/he must be available for two 1 hour meetings, the first two weeks in advance and another one week before Edcamp to learn of your duties and help stuff goodie bags. Each volunteer must be available the day of Edcamp – obviously. The perks of being a Day Of Volunteer: experience working with a group, full day of professional development on the campus, dibs on swag, and a volunteer certificate.
A Year-Round Volunteer is someone who is checking in monthly at in-person meetings for updates and progress. These volunteers also must be available the day of Edcamp. The perks of a year-round volunteer: resume booster of conference planning experience, a full day of professional development, volunteer certificate, and a T-shirt. The year-round volunteers are as follows:
Sponsorship Seeker – works throughout the fall and spring to secure sponsors that are monetary, and product-based. This requires you to send out a letter (we already have it created) via email to our list of sponsors. You will also be asked to reach out and find some new sponsors for the 2020 Edcamp. For this position, we have a spreadsheet that we update yearly with contacts, products, sites, etc.
Advertiser Extraordinaire – You are all about getting the word out about Edcamp. Send out flyers via email to local school districts, universities, and colleges. You are also in charge of organizing a team of volunteers to pitch Edcamp in education classes. In addition, you will work with education organizations (KDP, CEC, SES, FCE, etc) to work with PD credit approval. For our edcamp, we have education organizations that are looking for professional development credits for their members. Edcamp is always on the list! All participants need to do the day of the Edcamp is when they register to check that they are getting credit for an education organization the college. Lastly, you will contact prospective students to let them know about Edcamp.
Edcamp Influencer(s) – You are in charge of updating our website with the registration form, lead learner bios, swag pics, and links, and posting updates to social media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook). You will work with the advertiser extraordinaire to get the message out about Edcamp via our social media outlets.
Social Media You can’t underestimate the power of a post! Use social media to take your Edcamp to the next level! Give shoutouts to sponsors and attendees as a way to encourage everyone that it takes to make an Edcamp possible. Please assign this role to two or three people and consider dividing it up by platform to make sure you cover all your bases(one person runs Twitter, one person runs Instagram, one person updates the website, etc.)
We have some tips that we have in splitting up the work and roles
Meet regularly and check-in on leadership members to make sure things are on track and they aren’t getting overwhelmed. It’s a team, not a contest of who can do the most.
Know your limits! Don’t stress yourself out! Ask for help when you need it!
Make, use, and stick to the timeline. Check off the checklist as things get accomplished.
As the conference gets closer, meet more often to make sure that SWAG is rolling in and organized, meals are ordered or lunch accommodations are made, materials for registration and tech support is ready, etc.
At Edcamp GCC we love to real treat?, celebrate, and honor and attendees of EdCamp GCC. Here are some extra ways we help them feel as special as they are:
Meet attendees as they walk in the door. Waiting in line for registration can be boring! Network and pass out freebie bags to people who are waiting in line!
Get a playlist going. Consider sending an email to attendees the week before with the link to a shared playlist and have them contribute their favorite pump up songs to it!
EdCamp GCC is mostly run by pre-service teachers! What a great opportunity for college students! It is impressive that young adults can put on such a great professional development for educators of all years. Create an example of how they can add their work at the Edcamp to their resume.
EdCamp GCC makes sure to acknowledge our alumni who return to campus to be a part of EdCamp GCC. We make sure to welcome them and don them with special swag prizes! We have a specific alumni lounge for our attendees to gather and chat about the good ‘ol days.
Create a shared document for all attendees to write notes, connect, and collaborate (this idea was done at Edcamp State College). By creating a shared folder with documents and links attendees can go back and review concepts that they missed. They can also connect with other attendees from sessions.
During our Edcamp we started two traditions both of these were created by preservice teachers! These are not necessary for a great edcamp, but we have been doing them for so long participants really enjoy these experiences.
First, the escape room. Teachers want to have fun at EdCamp! One way to do this is to plan an escape room. We use BreakoutEDU. Start planning this at least 2 months prior to your EdCamp. Don’t get behind on planning! For successful escape rooms, we start by picking a theme. Then, create a flowchart that has what clues lead to what locks. Flowcharts are the most important thing for a breakout! Then, make puzzles for locks. Logic puzzles have always gone really well for us! In the room, distractions are a must, but shouldn’t be overwhelming. The goal is to have all the teams escape, but don’t make it too easy or too hard. We like to have at least one distraction per lock to keep things even. Transform your room! Go all-in for your theme! If the room looks amazing then your attendees will have an amazing time! Some tips for a successful escape room at edcamp:
Have a team sign-up sheet outside of the room. A good team size is anywhere from 8-12 people.
Logistics: Each escape session should last for 25 minutes. Allow yourself and a friend 5 minutes to set-up the room. We typically do 2 escape sessions per EdCamp session.
Set-up the room the night before. When you have your room set-up, take pictures of everything, and write down where everything should be and what the locks are. We like to make sure everything is exactly the same for each session to establish fairness. Doing this alleviates a TON of stress the day of EdCamp and helps you to be free to help others.
Make it a competition! Outside of the room have a running record of the teams and their escape times! Present a prize for the best team during the prize patrol at the end of the day. We like to make our prizes something easy to distribute among the team members. Movie theater candy boxes work great!
Next, the Tinker Lounge which is just as it sounds - a space for attendees to play and used different edtech tools. Some tips to host a successful tinker lounge:
Ask your fellow cohorts what kind of tech tools or classroom resources they would like to learn about, or put that question on the registration form. Doing this helps to plan a Tinker Lounge that is directed to the Edcamp attendees.
Spend time playing with the resources! We don’t have to be seasoned professionals for using a resource. All we need to know is how it works and how can it be used in the classroom. Sometimes you will have a chance to meet educators who can show you something new about said tool.
A successful Tinker Lounge is an organized Tinker Lounge! Make signs for each tool and display them like stations so everyone can see what’s what and where to go!
Allow attendees to bring something to share in the Tinker Lounge if they want!
Collaboration is Key. Ask your classmates if they are interested in learning about a STEM/Tech tool and presenting on it. The Tinker Lounge is also a great opportunity for a first time volunteer or leadership member.
Seek out new things! Try to stay on top with the most current tools that most teachers haven’t had a chance to see in action yet. Also with this, if there is something really cool that you don’t have access to, then email that company and ask to demo their product! Most companies, especially newer start-ups, are looking for ways to promote their product.
We can’t end this post without some great day of tips and strategies
Get plenty of rest and eat a good breakfast! You will be doing a lot and will want to make sure you have the energy!
Arrive early and help make sure that all things are ready for when the doors open. Nothing is worse than rushing around with finishing touches as things are starting.
Mingle during registration.
Pop in the sessions to make sure things are rolling and to see if anything is needed.
Bring positive vibes! If the volunteers and leadership team members show their attendees how excited they are to see them and learn with them, then the attendees will replicate that excitement! :)
We would love for you to check out our edcamp if you are ever in our neck of the woods. You can learn more about it here:https://edcampgcc.weebly.com/. If you need any tips or strategies please contact us we are happy to help. You got this - you can plan an amazing Edcamp! Go!