I, Joy Kirr, am a middle school teacher, author, and speaker. My 7th grade ELA (English Language Arts) classes are working to improve their lives through student-directed learning - without marks throughout the year. This is a log of my learning experiences... Want to have me speak with your staff or facilitate a workshop? Here is my PORTFOLIO.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

EdCamp Chicago - Fall 2013

I've written about EdCamp before...
     My second - EdCamp Madison
     The International Phenomenon - EdCamp Home

But yesterday was the first time I'd ever helped plan an EdCamp, and I've learned so much more - I just have to reflect on how the day went from an insider's viewpoint...

Being Invited...
Ben Hartman (@bhartmanwd7) and Paul Solarz (@PaulSolarz) each DMed me back in... July?? I don't remember. But they asked me if I could help organize the next EdCamp Chicago, set for the fall. OH, YES! I'd love to help organize! I was put on a list, and was ready to be told what to do - I'm a great go-fer! ;-)

Our GHOs...
Oh, why are these so nerve-wracking for me?! I kept my microphone muted until I really wanted to say something, but I really tried to be quiet. It was great to see others who were ready to help plan.
What was left of the crew before we went out...
Our great crew:
     Jenna Hacker @jennahacker
     Bernice Homel @BHomel1
     Joy Kirr @JoyKirr
     Ben Kuhlman @bkuhl2you
     Allison LaFalce @Allison_Lafalce
     Shawn McCusker @shawnmccusker
     Eric Patnoudes @NoApp4Pedagogy
     Jen Vincent @mentortexts
     Bob (My hubby jumped in a
        TON to help out the day of!)

During these Google Hangouts, I tried to take notes in a Google Doc about what was said, and what we needed to do next. What I was able to help with was (a pretty large) sponsorship, small raffle prizes & items for the goodie bags, but I didn't feel too useful. So I volunteered to keep up the blog. Luckily for me it was Blogger! I also created a "Meet the EdCampers" Google form for the registration. I gave up the responsibility of figuring out lunch, though - out of my league. Setting up the day-of document, I put myself down for explaining what an EdCamp is all about, and also the raffle - I thought that would be FUN!

The Walk-Through...
Ben asked if any of us could help out with a walk-through, to see where things would be, how we'd set it up, which rooms we'd use for sessions, etc. I loved seeing the easy layout and becoming familiar with the place.
Mrs. Hartman's Design

What Ben (or some magical fairy in the night) did...
Acquired the wonderful Wood Dale Junior High School as our venue...
     This included insurance, custodial help, logistics about collecting sponsorship money, etc.
Eventbrite registration
Name tags
EdCamp Chicago stickers (his wife designed them!)
Made BIG signs thanking sponsors
Bought sticky notes and pens for the proposals (Hey, Ben - I still have the sticky notes!)
Acquiring sponsors, goodie bag items, raffle prizes, sorting all the money, keeping everything straight, and keeping calm through all of it!

Bag Stuffing...
Need I say more? This happened on the Thursday before, and we just walked around the table of swag, stuffing and talking, talking and stuffing. We used the nice bags Bernice acquired from the Wood Dale Public library first, then used the smaller bags from Barnes and Noble for the late comers. This was a great time to learn more about our crew as we shared some stories.

The Night Before...
Kimberly Hurd (@khurdhorst) came into town from Minnesota and stayed with Bob and me! We first went to dinner at Uno's with Bernice, her husband, and Tasha (@tasquires). Went back home for a few minutes to figure out what I was going to say about EdCamps, then went out again to the Sponge Reef in Schaumburg for some karaoke! I was not nervous at all, but could only imagine what Ben was going through...

The Day of...
Up early, at the school at 7am, and helping set up. Coffee and donuts were put up, tables and chairs were scooched over a bit, registration tables and name tags set up, direction signs were set up, and raffle prizes just kept coming my way. Set up the extra free swag on the tables in the foyer, panicked as people started coming because I'd just remembered the raffle tickets, then calmed as we found them, got invigorated just seeing people start to arrive...

Loved seeing NEW faces of the names I recognized from Twitter! Here's a list of SOME of them:
     Julie McGovern (@jamcgovern), Mary Jo Cline (@WDJHLMC), Susie Highley (@shighley), Adam Moreno (@USMDrama), Merri Beth Kudrna (@mbkudrna), Jason Hanrahan (@Teamhanrahan62), Brendan Murphy (@dendari), Matt Coaty (@Mcoaty), Brianne Koletsos (@B_KOL), Samara Silverman (@SamaraSilverman), Renee (@frnlrwme), Ed Casey (@ecasey77), Erin Jackle (@ErinJackle), Joy Olenick (@JoyOlenick), Christine Collins (@cmcollins13), Meg Van Dyke (@docV216), Mary Klepper (@MaryKlepper), Mary Yockey (@MaryYockey), Gail LeGrand (@GailLeGrand), Andrea WilsonVazquez (@wilsandrea), Jeff Zoul (@Jeff_Zoul), Steve Wick (@nvwick), Michelle Russell (@michellerussell), Jill Maraldo (@jmaraldo), Karen Gluskin (@kegluskin), Tricia Brawley (@GiVeAhOoT) who I haven't seen since she was a student at Thomas, Nancy Blair (@blairteach) from Georgia, and Rik Rowe (@WHSRowe) from Massachusetts! OH MY GOODNESS!

Phew! After seeing all these faces and shaking hands or hugging them, it was time to begin in the auditorium. My role was the explanation of EdCamp, and then getting people started coming down to propose sessions. Easy-peasy. I had everything I wanted to say written down, and I love a microphone. When the first session was started, I pulled 100 raffle tickets so we'd have those people with those tickets come down to the stage at 3pm and choose their small prize. The other 40 or so raffle prizes would be chosen with everyone in attendance after the Smackdown. I did take the time to put those in (what I thought was) order of value. I was sorta off on that...! Loved that I had previously met & had lunch with the person who won the Chromebook, too - Garnet Hillman (@garnet_hillman)!

I attended the second session, but was (literally) called out early by a phone call from my parents who were traveling - I wanted to make sure they were okay, so I had to answer it and quietly leave! Lunch was next - I ate with Bernice, Tasha, Meg, and Bob was back from helping pick up lunch and deliver the trays back to Mario's. He seemed to be having a great time, too - he even held onto Kristie Bleers's (@kbleers) tickets for her, because she had to leave! I needed to attend the third session, because a woman from Palatine told me she HAD to talk to me about her 5th graders and ask me all kinds of questions about assessments (bad taste in my mouth) during Genius Hour. Great people were there - Allison, Paul, Ben K., and Michael Matera (@mrmatera), among others I just can't remember right now.

Then it was back to the stage to set up the small raffle prizes and get ready for the larger ones. Allison helped me divvy them out and organize, but she had to leave early, so she couldn't stay to announce them. Jenna helped me out when it was time.

My Big "Take-Away..."
Everyone in your planning group needs to use his or her own gifts for a successful event.
This was a huge lesson for me. I got out of doing lunch duty, but felt guilty for doing so. I just didn't think I could do it right, thought I'd have lots of trouble, and just felt uneasy about it. Allison did a GREAT job of securing the deal. I helped where I could, however, and did the best I could with it. I could've been more timely getting the tweets out for "Meet the Camper," but many of the people I added the Thursday before didn't even show anyway. I could've added updates to the blog, but didn't feel it was necessary. I could've called more companies for sponsorship, but that wasn't my skill set either, I'd thought. Everyone had a part to play, and everyone played his or her part very well. I would list what they all did, but it's just WAY too much, and this post is WAY too long as it is, in my opinion.

I had to reflect on this day... I equate it to going to Disney World, really.

Thank you to everyone who made it happen - our inspired organizers, our stellar crew, the passionate teachers who came from near and far to learn from one another, the staff at Wood Dale District 7, and my biggest fan, Bob. I fed off of your passion this weekend, and you've invigorated me once again. I'll be heading to school with a huge smile on my face - THANK YOU.


  1. I love it Joy! Thanks for posting this - it gives people a glimpse into what it takes to organize an EdCamp!

    Please don't feel guilty about not helping with lunch or anything! I feel the same way as you since Ben did SO MUCH! But we all did what we could and it turned out to be an amazing event that people are still talking about!

  2. Joy, you and the whole #edcampchicago team did a phenomenal job planning and running this event on Saturday. I was so excited to finally meet you (and many others) if only briefly. Love the fact I’m hearing your voice now as I read your tweets!