How to Get Your Name into the Minds and Hearts of Teachers

How to Get Your Name into the Minds and Hearts of Teachers

Mary Jo Madda

Want to hear about one of the best hockey-stick-growth secrets in education?

It’s called Edcamp, an organic professional development experience organized by teachers, for teachers. Since the first Edcamps session in May 2010 in Philadelphia, Edcamps have multiplied: More than 950 Edcamp events have been held around the world, embracing more than 50,000 teachers in 26 countries and six continents. Even so, the majority of those gatherings have happened in the US.

And you’re about to get an invitation in.

First, let me explain how Edcamps work: Any educator, literally anywhere in the world, can raise their hand and volunteer to coordinate a local Edcamp meeting. Frequently, five to ten teachers in an area will begin to talk about hosting an Edcamp. They find a venue--often a local school. They pick a date, typically a Saturday or other day when teachers are usually available.

There is no pre-set agenda; instead, the topics to be discussed emerge organically, driven by the participants. What questions do they want to discuss? What are they passionate about? On the day of the Edcamp, the first order of business of attendees is for the people who are there to propose topics to be discussed. This allows teachers a chance to talk about what interests them and to ask their colleagues and peers questions that really concern them. Plus, Edcamps are always free. Always free and open to any educator willing to put in the time, so the people who show up are deeply committed to their practice and to the students in the classrooms. They are the teachers with whom you want to connect. On average, about 75 teachers attend each Edcamp.

Attendance at Edcamps is driven by word of mouth, spread on social media. The educators who attend regularly share on Twitter and Facebook what they are learning, expanding the reach of each Edcamp every weekend exponentially.

All they need is a little caffeine and a few other supports to fuel their meetings.

Last year, we formally established the Edcamp Foundation, a nonprofit organization to support the teachers who organize their local Edcamps. We created “Edcamp-in-a-Box”--a collection of essential items for hosting an event. Before we send out each Box, we talk to the organizers, helping them navigate the process of setting up their event. Then we send out the Box, which includes essential goodies such as nametags, markers, Post-It notes, Edcamp stickers and--here it comes--funds to provide breakfast and coffee for the teachers who attend.

Many companies, both well-established ones and start-ups, have responded generously when teachers who are organizing Edcamps have reached out and asked for help. They’ve sent everything from water bottles to lanyards to stickers. Many have helped by sending the funds for meals as well. Now we’d like to make it easier for Edcamp local organizers to focus on bringing together the people who will benefit from these gatherings and not spend their time scrounging for resources. So we’re opening up the chance to sponsor an Edcamp-in-a-Box to companies and organizations throughout the US.

A $300 donation to the Edcamp Foundation covers the cost of a single, day-long Edcamp workshop. Even better, Edcamps are willing--even eager!--to share your company swag. Sponsor an Edcamp-in-a-Box, and you will have an opportunity to put your company’s brand right into the hands of dozens of motivated and impactful teachers!

To get started, fill out this form. As soon as the Foundation connects you with the relevant Edcamp, we’ll send you an introductory email, and you can pack up the materials you’d like to share and ship them directly to the organizers. The organizers will make sure your materials are shared on Edcamp Day.

Sponsors are thanked at the event and on social media, both by the local Edcamps and by the Edcamp Foundation. This happens at the time of the sponsorship and again on the day of the Edcamp. The social media reach of the Edcamp movement is tremendous, with many teachers following the #edcamp hashtag every Saturday. A little mention of sponsorship goes a long way, far beyond the people attending any particular camp. Thanks are also posted on through their individual Edcamp websites, and on the Edcamp Foundation’s website.

Our Edcamp-in-a-Box is showing the same snappy growth as the original camp concept. In the first six months of the program, we’ve been able to send more than $14,000 to local Edcamps. As the word gets out, requests are pouring in, with organizers incredibly grateful to the sponsors who made it so much easier to host their Edcamp.

“We felt fully supported by the Edcamp Foundation and are tremendously grateful for the Edcamp-in-a-Box,” said an organizer of an Edcamp in Kaua’i, Hawaii.

Hadley places everything into an official Edcamp-in-a-Box.

“Taking the pressure off of finding funds to provide food was huge. We really appreciated the support you provided in the Edcamp box,” said a teacher from Wyoming.

Edcamps have energized teachers around the world, providing them with an active and collaborative community. The educators who attend are committed to providing the best that they can for their students. The Edcamp Foundation’s goal is to support the dedicated teachers who volunteer their time to make each Edcamp happen. Join with us to make this happen! Make a generous donation today!

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