After attending EdCamp Magic in Orlando in June 2016, I sent a text message to a friend who was also an EdCamp fan in our district, who also worked in PD. I asked her why we didn’t have our own EdCamp in Tampa. She told me that she had joined the EdCamp Tampa Bay (Clearwater) planning team to learn more about how to plan an EdCamp in our district. I decided it was time to jump in and just do it!
I planned on running it fairly independently from the district, but knew I needed district approval to use a school site as a host without rental fees. My principal graciously opened her doors, and I emailed the assistant superintendent for professional development, who was thrilled with the idea. I built an identity for the event, using the EdCamp logo embedded into a pirate flag to symbolize Tampa and the Teach Like a Pirate spirit. I built a website, opened up tickets, and brought on a couple of new teammates who were also EdCamp fans but also teachers in the district.
They told me about another teacher who was trying to plan her own EdCamp in the district, and already had a sponsor on board for meals at her site. We added her on to our team, and moved our site to take advantage of the meals.
With monthly planning meetings, we divided into specialties. Our PD team member was a great help, securing funding leftover from another PD event for meals. Another team member focused on acquiring “swag” from various vendors to give away. Another focused on logistics for the day and handling the details. I handled the makerspace and getting my Genius students and my daughter to lead it, and the t-shirts using a local vendor to sell them online.
We did a lot of promotion on social media, particularly with the #HCPSTeach hashtag and a Facebook live event. We had over 400 register for the event “selling out” a month before the event on April 1. Over 200 came to the event, with about half being first time attendees. With a successful event under our belts, we are bringing on new team members to plan for the next EdCamp HCPS on April 7, 2018.
I chose this artifact because it shows my ability to form a leadership team and be comfortable in letting a group take upon my initiative. Where I had built the background for the event, I truly let the collective voice shape the event, not just from the leadership team, but in the nature of the unconference. In providing a local EdCamp, we provided equity by bringing educators who wouldn’t or couldn’t travel to Clearwater or Orlando access to own their professional development, bringing new ideas to refresh classroom and teaching practices to all students.
This reflects teacher as innovator because I brought an innovative method of professional development to many teachers in my district, and have inspired schools to start their own mini-EdCamps in pre-planning. By bringing together a team of innovators, we found ways to make it work within our district. This has created new realms of influence as an innovator in PD in our district and as an EdCamp organizer in the state.