Planning professional development. Making teachers happy. These are not always expressions that are used together in the same sentence.
Mixing it up.
The ES trialed three weeks of Edcamp sessions during divisional staff meeting time in December. Of course, that created a bit of a buzz among MS and HS teachers. When do we get to do something like that? Well, they finally got something like that on the afternoon of February 3. There were two Edcamp-style sessions for MS and HS teachers to choose from.
The challenges (what made this less Edcamp-y)
- This is a school-sanctioned afternoon of professional development. It is not optional.
- No one planning or facilitating (or participating for that matter) has ever participated in an Edcamp in the real world. Ever.
- It is more planned than spontaneous.
- Would facilitators really facilitate conversations or would they default to the status quo and present information?
- The To Do List
- Soliciting Topics and Facilitators – A Google form allowed teachers to propose Edcamp topics and to opt-in to facilitate a session.
- Teacher sign ups were facilitated, once again, by a Google form. Because certain sessions were quite popular, we capped sign ups at around 12 – 15 participants (which I monitored via the spreadsheet that collected the information). I went into the form and removed the sessions as they reached capacity.
- I met with facilitators to outline a few agreements, answer questions, and offer any support they might need. I also created and shared an Edcamp: Facilitator How To guide.
- I created and shared a collaborative document for facilitators to capture the conversation during their sessions. This is also intended for follow-up and continuing conversations over time. Facilitators were free to use and edit the collaborative document to suit their needs. However, it proved to be a bit “clunky” in design for some facilitators.
- Locations were assigned and door signs were made.
The Edcamp Experience
The entire afternoon went off without a hitch. Teachers seemed to welcome a different approach to professional development. The follow up survey certainly confirms this!
This is the new question on the tips of some participants’ tongues. It takes on a variety of tones:
- What now? What actions will actually come from this?
- What now? Philosophical chit-chat is fine, but what about the practical?
- What now? When do we get to do this again?
- What now? I was really motivated by the conversation and want it to continue.
After discussion with the Professional Development Planning Team, we shared some of the following ideas with staff:
Learning that comes from Edcamps is driven by the interests of participants. The directions in which participants choose to take their learning are infinite. Below are some ideas to consider for participants who are wondering, “Now what?”
The next step is yours.
Here are some suggestions to continue and extend the conversations and learning from Edcamp sessions:
- Use the collaborative docs from each session to continue conversations, to collaborate, to share resources, and to inquire with your Edcamp group. Find the list of topics and collaborative docs here.
- Seek further information and answers (e.g., do a Google search, read an article or a blog on an Edcamp topic of interest).
- Consider starting a PLC to further explore a topic with colleagues.
- Identify and reach out to someone at AIS who could support a next action step.
- Facilitate an Edcamp session in the future to delve deeper and identify actions.
“The teacher, the admin, the coach – the individual – has to assume responsibility for his own learning. The individual path an educator takes to grow professionally must be built by the learner, for himself, in order to be effective. No two paths will look the same. And that’s a good thing.”
Hilt, Lyn. “A PKM Challenge.” Learning in Technicolor. 19 Feb. 2014.
It looks like there will be another Edcamp opportunity in April. We will incorporate some tweaks to improve upon some of the organizational pieces.
However, what’s really next in PD? Well, that’s anyone’s guess. Actually, I feel like what is next is the re-branding of Professional Development to become Professional Learning. After all, learning is really what we are all about!