Wednesday, May 11, 2016

#WhyIEdCamp: Passion and Positivity from #EdCampSummit

By Rachel Murat

To put it mildly EdCamps and the people that attend them have saved my career. If you’ve never been to one, you need to get to one. You can find the link to the events at, and I guarantee that if you walk in with an open mind and a willingness to be outside your comfort zone, you will never look at professional development the same way again.

I have attended over 30 EdCamps and have helped to organize three. The last of which, EdCampSTNY, was held in my district on April 9th, 2016. Being an organizer of an EdCamp has so many perks and opportunities for growth that I could go on for hours about them. Instead of doing that, why don’t I talk an opportunity I never thought I would have and that was to attend the inaugural EdCampSummit, an EdCamp for EdCamp organizers. When I first heard about it, I jumped right on it because I knew it would be a way to network with other organizers and grow even more as a professional.

Although those two things did happen, what I hadn’t anticipated was the sheer amount of passion, positivity and warmth from such an eclectic group of highly motivated educators. I met organizers from all over the northeast and from as far away as the Ukraine! Having time to share our stories, experiences and learn from each other is something I will never forget.

I would like to share two experiences from that weekend that I will always remember. Both got me so far outside my comfort zone I wasn’t sure I was even in the same room with it anymore. The first was an “unkeynote” from Anthony from @SpeechlessShow where he had us laughing to the point of tears as we learned the art of improv and then he taught us how to beatbox.

Yes, I said beatbox.

In keeping with my discomfort of the new activity, I volunteered to participate in an activity that would later be recorded and tweeted out. Normally, I am totally fine with that, but who wants to see a 44 year old suburban white woman from NY beatboxing? No one I know! LOL! It was a great community building activity that sparked so many ideas for classroom application of the improv skills we were working on.

The second experience was a very frank discussion on race that had me reflecting on my practice at school and in life in general. Listening to the perspectives in the room has had me thinking about this topic ever since. I am looking critically at the relationships at school and also how I present myself. I am thankful for the EdCamp Foundation for being mindful enough to bring Jose Vilson to speak with us and start a meaningful conversation about race.

Throughout the conference, I was learning more about organizational strategies, strategies to get more educators, administrators, parents and board members to our events as well as having discussions of how not to let the EdCamp model “jump the shark”. There wasn’t a minute of the weekend that I regretted my choice to attend. I was able to engage in conversations over meals, on walks with Katie McFarland, and during sessions all of which made me a better organizer, professional and person.

Many people at work asked how I could “give up” my weekend to attend the event. I asked them how they thought I could give up the opportunity to be around like minded, passionate educators who are part of my tribe!

Rachel is a social studies teacher at Maine-Endwell High School who teaches a flipped AP Gov course, Economics, US History, PBL Entrepreneurship, and Digital Citizenship. Additionally, she is the Tech Integrator and Tech Lead Teacher for the High School. Rachel is the President and founder of M-EALS and Leadership, a school food pantry that feeds 100+ district families each week and over the summer. She also advises the Class of 2016 and Mock Trial, and runs the Mentor/Tutor program that links upperclassmen with the freshmen for an entire school year. You can find Rachel Twitter @MrsMurat, on Facebook as Rachel Beatty Murat, or by email at


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