Last summer (and this), I was frustrated. My cousins live in the middle of South Carolina, and both of them had a Spanish teacher who left halfway through the year. Now, I am aware of the struggles of being a teacher and why teachers leave in the middle of the year. But, I really want my cousins to have the same wonderful experience that I had of learning a second language. One of my cousins just did Duolingo for the rest of the year. I believe that part of the problem is that many teachers feel isolated and that they do not have the support needed. I realize that I am fortunate to be able to attend so much of the professional development that I do. I teach at a school that prioritizes professional development and can financially support us. Plus, living in DC, I am close to three major airports which makes travel cheaper. In addition, many conferences come to this area. I realize that this is not the reality for many teachers. Even the state conference may be too far away.
What could I do- other than move and teach in SC? I wanted to try to spread free professional development to a different area, but I wasn’t sure where to start. In the Virginia Comprehensible Input group, Lynne Hendrick mentioned that she wanted to form a meet-up. This was the perfect hook for me- and she was willing to join forces! One of my favorite professional development is the edcamp model. Before, I have listed why I love edcamp so much. We connected about two months before the event, and we still were able to put it together successfully. It was pretty much that easy to do! I wanted to share how we did this, so you can determine how to set up one yourself!
Luckily, Lynne’s school was gracious enough to host the event. (Also her supervisor was amazingly supportive and excited for the event!) This way the location was taken care of. I took care of the electronic part of it. This was a bit time consuming to start. If you want to do this, I would recommend perhaps starting this bit of it now over the summer when teachers have more time. I used WordPress to host our site, but I know that Weebly is supposed to be really easy, too. (Obviously since I use WordPress for this blog, I knew it the best.) I registered an email through Google which gave us a separate account to house the information as well as all of the wonderful features with Google.
I wanted to have a few items on the blog to start before we publicized it. On the blog, I put up a preliminary schedule for people who were not familiar with edcamps. I put up two short blog posts with mostly links about what an edcamp is and what comprehensible input is. I also put up some FAQs as well.
I also put the invite up on Eventbrite. The trickiest part of Eventbrite was trying to come up with a logo. I do not know a lot about how to edit logos. I suggest trying to get a student or someone else to help you with this. (Also, I want to re-do our logo to make it better for next year.) Since we were putting this together quickly and I wanted to get the information up, I just went with it. This was a detail that I tried not to get too bogged down with. Eventbrite was a site that was easy to navigate, and I linked it with our edcamp email, so all of the information went to that email. Also, it was easy to email all participants a week ahead of time using Eventbrite.
I made a Twitter account as well. In the end, I love Twitter, but I am not sure how many people saw many of the posts there. It was relatively easy to maintain though, so you could consider doing so. I wouldn’t say it was a “must-do” in our case.
After this, we looked for a few “sponsors” for the raffle and breakfast. Remember that edcamps are not sponsored per se like traditional conferences, but many edcamps reach out to companies for breakfast or a raffle item. You can contact any company that you work with to see if they are interested. Also, many companies work with edcamps frequently. You can look into other edcamp websites to see who they contacted. I would not worry about going too overboard. Remember that the teachers are there to connect and get ideas not necessarily for a free breakfast or raffle item. It is just nice to have these to honor the teachers’ time.
The rest of the time, Lynne and I promoted our event via Facebook groups and Twitter. We contacted some of the foreign language organizations within our state. In retrospect, I forgot to contact some of the universities in the area. (That will be the first thing on my to do list next year!) We also planned some blog posts about comprehensible input for teachers to reference.
This was most of the “pre” work that we did. Edutopia ran a whole series talking about how to plan an edcamp as well. Also edcamp has a wealth of resources on their website. Next post, I will discuss how we ran the day of especially because this is getting lengthy! If you are interested in hosting an edcamp, I would love to help you plan or promote it on my blog as well. I hope that more and more people will continue to plan edcamps to spread their ideas even further!