In talking with some of the strongest and more innovative teachers I know about the best professional development they had in the past year, I heard about these ‘EdCamp’ things. In doing some research it seemed as though they happen everywhere not close to where I lived. BUT the idea was pretty simple. Attendee’s propose ideas, coordinators put together a session chart, you select a session for each time.
Sometimes it is serendipitous how things happen. After describing this as an option for the north country master teachers, I saw #edcampldrNY fly into my twitter sphere from @lisameade23. After discussion of whether it was appropriate for me to attend I decided to give it a go.
I will tell you that as a ‘normal teacher’ in an EdCamp full of teacher leaders and administration I left knowing that this type of professional development needs to be tried within school districts. Why? Because it is:
Engaging. Even as someone who was a bit out of her ‘sphere’, I was highly engaged. The first thing attendee’s were asked to do was to place ideas on the wall. While some left my table to see what was being posted, other began talking about potential subjects and writing them on the stickers. Even though I didn’t know these people in a few cases it was my nod of OK that facilitated the sticker going up front. This wrapped me into the curiosity around the session that were to come.
Differentiated. I don’t mean we are using 10 different types of 10 different things to accomplish 100 different goals. As the board got put together like items were grouped together (google hangouts, Google expeditions, and seesaw; blogging, Facebook and Twitter to share stories). Each time slot sessions spread a span of items that could be discussed. We ended up voting on the last three sessions to be placed in the schedule. I was pleasantly surprised to find sessions that I wanted to attend and would be pertinent to my classroom for each time.
Collaborative. Somewhere amidst the crazy technology app roll-out we seem to have forgotten the art of conversation. Our protocol was simply to introduce ourselves and state our thoughts about the topic of the session we were attending. It worked well. In each of my sessions I learned about concerns and/or questions. The key is that next we began to discuss practical applications and solutions to those questions. No one person had the right answer. As conversations continued, ideas began to build and one could see a greater product as a result of our shared knowledge. It was pretty amazing!
Awe Inspiring. I left feeling glad I made the trip for the day.As a teacher today I realized my importance in helping with the bigger picture of our school.
Motivating.Being so engaged and taking in such great information during a professional day certainly brings with it the motivation to do more. I am inspired to do more and really make sure to better understand the key aspects the administration at my school is focused on.
Powerful. The EdCamp experience has the power to reach and engage the majority of teachers. While appropriate facilitation is key, the model is more inclusive than exclusive. It doesn’t have to be done every professional development day. Think of the treat it is on the day it is offered. No power points, digital notes from every session available.
Every group of teachers I could think of would be able to both contribute and learn from this model. The ‘smackdowns’ at the end were the perfect way to efficiently share out. I even left with an awesome book (Thank You upstate NY sponsors!!). The question is now, why not try it? At least once?