This past Friday, we embarked on a journey as a staff to learn from each other. We held our first EdCamp-style professional development, and while some things will need to be modified, it was truly a success.
The Set Up
Initial set up of this process included showing a brief video to staff to explain what an EdCamp was and how it would be formatted. The video link below is the one shown to staff
Although, many other great videos of EdCamp formats exist:
After showing the video, staff was given a list of some topics we had heard as an administrative staff as possible ‘needs’ and areas of current expertise that existed on the staff. Items included: leading a thinking classroom, setting good learning targets, classroom management, use of technology in the classroom, Google in the classroom, special ed accommodations, and so forth. We asked that staff reply to us via email if they were interested in starting the conversation on a particular topic.
We were able to have 20 different sessions offered, in three time blocks, during this initial effort. Our schedule included three 30 minute sessions, stacked back to back, in a concentrated area of the building. The idea was to keep the rooms close together so we didn’t lose time in transition from session to session.
In many ways our EdCamp felt like being at a conference where you just happened to know everyone there. Most of the rooms were full and the conversations were genuine. I was pleased to see the level of engagement in the conversations from our staff and even more pleased at the ‘buzz’ in the hallways during transition from session to session.
Observations of EdCamp
* Powerful seeing a music teacher and several math teachers dialoguing about ‘real math’ and the connection to music. Equally exciting to hear them discuss the math behind puzzles such as Rubik’s Cube.
* Laughter, genuine laughter…nearly every room had staff sharing a laugh over some topic (this made me fist pump a little)
* Two Career Academy teachers led a discussion on never working harder than their students; this is an important topic for us as we often times have teachers who do all the ‘heavy lifting’ and leave students working at a very low depth of knowledge level
* Similarly, leading a thinking classroom had colleagues discussing and listening to one of the best in this area around having the students do the thinking and pushing it to higher levels
* The sessions were TOO SHORT – we had them in 1/2 hour intervals and often the conversation was just heating up – we will move to probably 45-50 min per session next time around
* Google in the classroom was a popular topic, with many staff asking me about it today as well. It really puts the spotlight on getting technology not only into students hands but also arming staff with the know-how to use tech as a learning tool. This session was a great starter kit for teachers who want to take that next step toward having students be independent and interdependent with technology and their learning.
* Expertise – there is a lot of expertise with my staff, and in many areas. We really need to continue learning with and from each other. For the longest time we have relied on bringing in experts from everywhere on the planet but have not used the skill set we already have in place. It was an awesome experience to see, hear, and feel the learning that took place between members of the same staff.
“Loved it. Would love to have it again.”
“Yes-overwhelmingly positive response! More session time”
“I would love to go more in depth to help others.”
“I thought it was well worth our time….look forward to >”
“Thought the format was very good. Best PD in a while.”
As we move forward, I know we will be doing the EdCamp structured PD in our next building-wide PD day. We have some edges to tighten up but given the positive feedback from staff, they will be excited to do this again. We must make sure our focus is clear, however, and that we aren’t just chasing rabbits. A survey will be created to identify what type of sessions staff would want, how many is too many during a session, and how we can support their learning after the day is complete.
Questions or Comments????
Thanks for reading…
What a great post! I’m a principal as well and would like to try this at my next PD. GREAT!!!