About EdCamp, Friends and Family

Have you ever been “Sharpy-Boy” ?

“Sharpy-Boy” is when you forget to register for a conference and you have to use a sticker label  to create your name badge by hand ( there’s “Sharpy Girl” also of course).


EdCampLI Chalk Logo: Courtesy of   Lucy Kemnitzer

You’ve all been to conferences.  You sign in. Get a name badge that was printed for you in advance.  Everyone has a neatly prepared badge — with their name — title — school district — all proudly displayed on their badge, neatly protected in a plastic case — hanging — from a lanyard.

And there’s Sharpy-Boy over there with his sloppy sticky label (generally a leftover intended for a third class package that didn’t need insurance) — peeling a
way from his jacket — with his smudged name scribbled by an exasperated graduate assistant or administrative intern who muttered “We only sent 3000 e-mails about this conference… #@%*!”, avoiding eye contact — “sorry, we don’t have any conference folders left”.


The Name Badge of Shame.

(My wife [@sharpy-boydmgately] is a marvelous educational leader who rarely forgets to register for conferences; so for me the phenomenon described above is magnified as I walk into the keynote, half a step behind her, head hung in humiliation, “This is my husband, ‘Sharpy-Boy’”.  With one smudgy Avery label I’ve brought shame on my entire family.)

I’ve been Sharpy-Boy… it’s not fun.

I want to talk about EdCamp but first a disclaimer; this is not a post about the superiority of EdCamp over conventional “Conference” learning.  That position has been asserted far too often and I don’t agree with it.  Much as I promote EdCamp, I also love attending conferences and hearing from experts in the field, including practitioners who are doing jobs similar to me and are accomplishing great things.

This post is about the “culture” of EdCamp.


Don and Danielle with “The Boss”

I’ve had a hand in organizing several EdCamps this year.  Each had a slightly different complexion.  EdCamp Long Island in its third year had over 350 people experience self-directed learning.  We have a core team of people who co-founded EdCampLI and work together to put this together.  If every committee I worked with functioned like this team, there’d be no limit to what could be accomplished.  A substantial portion of the Annual Conference of State Administrators of New York State (SAANYS) which I attended used the EdCamp structure.   I also had a hand in the planning of nErDCamp Long Island and an in-district EdCamp professional development day that paired my home district with a neighboring school district.  All of these events were highly successful.   The EdCamp model of professional development of learning is a sure thing, people always come away having learned and made connections that will improve their professional practice.

There’s a feeling of teamwork at an EdCamp that’s difficult to describe.  You know how when you have a dinner party and your sister’s new boyfriend constantly offers to help you clean the table or do the dishes or get the chairs out of the attic and after he leaves you discover that he fixed that leaky faucet in the downstairs bathroom? That’s what EVERYBODY is like at EdCamp!  I was blown away by the number of people throughout the day who jumped in to help make the event a success. And I’m talking about people I don’t even know and people I’ve only interacted with digitally.  At EdCampLI, every 5 minutes somebody was asking me what they could do to help or just seeing something that needed to be done and doing it. Whether it was moving boxes of books, cutting sandwiches at lunch, straightening up tables with swag or helping to distribute raffle tickets, the success of this event was a result of the work of nearly every person in attendance.


Session Board at EdCamp Syosicho

At EdCamp everybody is friends, family even, and we don’t need no stinkin badges!  There’s something about the EdCamp Model of professional development that makes friends and family out of everyone.

Probably because, like a family, or an excellent school for that matter, everyone at EdCamp is galvanized in their efforts around a common goal:  learning and improving the lives of children.

EDCAMP — Sharpy Boys welcome!

About dfgately

Middle School Principal Jericho, NY
This entry was posted in edcamp, Educational Focus, Leadership, Random Thoughts, Reflections, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to About EdCamp, Friends and Family

  1. Jan Kasal says:

    Agree, the EdCamps and ParentCamps are a fresh breath to the public education venues that have been plagued with the status quo for decades. We get our schools back in little steps.

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