It's about time. A week later, I'm finally carving out some time on a beautiful Saturday afternoon to reflect about another amazing EdCamp Omaha.
Because I'm so late, I've had the opportunity to read some insightful reflections of the day from the people that matter the most - the attendees. Because they all captured the day so well, I'm going to direct you to all of their blog posts and reflect on some other things from an organizers perspective. Thanks to Michelle, Michelle, Darin, Guy, Ann, Brent, Alex, Jennifer, Kristina, the camera-toting teacher Laura and all the others who gave their feedback about the day. I truly appreciate the feedback and hope we can address some of the critiques that I've seen as well. We are far from perfect, but I feel we learn more each year and I really like how we do things at EdCamp Omaha.
One of the most important times for me is the before and after of EdCamps. Twitter allows educators to connect on a regular basis, but I really love the opportunity to sit down with people in a more social setting. It allows you to get to know them a little more personally. Saturday night a group of 8-10 of us went to The Blatt for supper. I shared something that had been rolling in my head for a while - attendance. To be clear, I'm not disappointed in our attendance, even though it was slightly less than the last two years. I don't concern myself with having x number of people, because when we had 60 people show up, the conversations were just as rich as when we've had 130. But if you click on any of the links above, you read about how energizing of an experience EdCamp is, how refreshing being around all of those passionate educators is, and how attendees leave wanting more professional development like this - how many times do you hear people want more professional development?
During one of the breaks, I got to talk with Joe from NE Loves PS, one of our local sponsors who does GREAT work across the state (they even let me on their blog!). We talked about the quality of educator that attends EdCamp Omaha (any EdCamp, for that matter) and we both agreed that, while there are definitely others like them out there, these educators realize this isn't an 8-4 job. They genuinely love education, kids, and being a learner.
It got me to thinking more about how do we get more people there, so they can feel the same feelings that you read about in the posts above? I don't have a great answer, but Saturday evening allowed me to do some brainstorming with those at Blatt. We'll never get 1000 teachers there. Things happen. Life happens. My wife reminds me often that our target demographic is 25-55ish (*edited after comments & more reflection :)) year olds, working people, many married, many with kids. Giving up a Saturday is tough, and as the father of three I completely understand and am not criticizing them. But I know that there are educators out there in that demographic who would have a better understanding of why I, with three kids, have made time the last four years for a dozen EdCamps if we just get them in the door. Why three people traveled 6+ hours to come last week. Why about 20 more traveled over 2 hours. They would see how empowering it is to have a voice and learn with others who were born to do what they do. Another analogy that I've been think about is that EdCamps are kind of like churches - if you are a religious person, it's a no-brainer that you make time to attend church regularly. But how often do you bring someone new with you? How easy is it for you to explain what you get out of attending in a way that someone else is compelled to devote time and energy to attending (I'm horrible at this)? It's something that I think about a lot and have been keeping more resources for next spring. I'm also hoping to infiltrate some other list serves after January 1st to get the word out a little better. Admittedly, we had significantly increased attendance the first three years so I wrongly assumed that EdCamp Omaha would promote itself. Live and learn.
EdCamp Omaha continues to be a great event and one that I'm very proud to organize with a wonderful minion like Kristina.
We have such great educators that give up their time to make the day so great, I just hope we can share the wealth some more!
Thanks to everyone who attended and reflected! You really make the time and effort easily worth it! Follow our website http://edcampomaha.wikispaces.com and @EdCampOmaha - we've hopefully got a big announcement coming in the future!