When our building teacher leaders speak, we try to listen. Our building teachers said they wanted more say in professional development, less top down mandates, more resources they can use each day.
The answer for us?
EdCamp, or an un-conference, is a new method of professional development. This video does a nice job describing EdCamp:
In our building, we split the first part of EdCamp (what we want to learn more about) and the second part of EdCamp (learning and sharing) between 2 days.
After watching the above video, teachers each wrote 3 sticky notes with topics they wanted to learn more about. Many of the sticky notes fell into common categories:
- Supporting Struggling Readers
- Brain Breaks for ‘Active’ Students
- Project Based Learning
- Homeroom (a data system new to our district)
- iPads/Google Docs
Because we are all on TPEP this year, many folks are eager to meet Criterion 8: Exhibiting collaborative and collegial practices focused on improving instructional practice and student learning.
These are the qualities of a proficient professional:
Teacher’s relationships with colleagues are characterized by mutual support and cooperation; teacher actively participates in a culture of professional inquiry. Teacher volunteers to participate in school events and in school and district projects, making a substantial contribution.
We allowed people to sign up for an EdCamp session prior to the actual EdCamp day. This allowed us to look for willing facilitators, arrange rooms, and give some people some processing time. We created a schedule:
|Supporting Struggling Readers
|Brain Breaks for “Active” Students with Elsa||Project Based Learning
As you can see, not all sessions were offered both times. This allowed the facilitators to move to other sessions to hear about other topics.
We gave each leader a Facilitator’s Guide ahead of time. Some people like the structure of a protocol. Others find it too restricting. I wanted each facilitator to have the tools he or she needed to guide the group. Check out the facilitator guide.
The day of EdCamp was filled with other excitement: learning to use an online writing tool with our curriculum, a visiting guest speaker who talked to us about PLCs and struggling learners (Thank you Janel Keating!), and a day of learning without students.
We gave participants this handy participant guide. I believe we all need structures to reflect in order for an experience to be meaningful.
In the struggling readers session, here are some things that arose:
What tools to use to help struggling readers?
When do you find the time to do this?
Would like more information on the Benchmark passages. When you did the DRA you made notes on the passage to indicate the types of errors. We don’t see that when we get the benchmark passages back. It would be nice to have some consistency with the kinds of error marking that happens.
What about test anxiety?
It would be nice to have vertical discussion on standards and what is in the curriculum.
How long do we have to wait before moving students to sped? How long is too long?
It would be nice if we could share the actual form (not just google docs) that shows what the teachers before have tried and what worked and what didn’t work for the student.
Following the EdCamp sessions, teachers shared a sense of relief for sharing thoughts and ideas. Rather than walking away with a toolbox full of ready to use tools, they communicated appreciation for being heard, and having time to share thoughts and ideas.
As a leadership team, the feedback from these sessions can guide our further professional development. Sessions not offered now can be offered at another session. Requests for further information can turn into a more traditional looking professional development opportunity, book study, or action research.
Have you participated in an EdCamp? What was your experience?