Over a year ago, I began reading about this growing trend of professional development called the EdCamp. Educators created what they wanted to learn on the spot and shared amazing insights, tips, tricks, and ideas in a fabulous, collaborative environment.
So, last summer, I had to try it out. I attended the Google EdCamp held at Wayne Township in Indianapolis, and I walked away pumped up and full of ideas. It was fun to learn from others, share stories, and jump up and share some of my ideas too! I met new people and learned some very cool tips!
And so, I wanted to bring this idea to my school and my district. Last fall, we gave it a whirl. With my staff’s trust (and another school in our district joined us for the day), we embarked upon a new framework for professional development. Within our district, we were very lucky to have a full professional development day and each building built their own professional development plan. The first part of our day was designed for developing a writing unit with the help of our district literacy coach. It was a fabulous morning of collaboration.
After lunch, it was EdCamp time!
Prior to that day, I sent out a Google Form asking about technology topics and interest. I was able to build a basic structure for our session board. Along with that, I knew this was the first most of my staff, and some had never heard of an EdCamp before. I decided to put together a few slides to briefly describe what an EdCamp was, how it worked, the “rules of engagement”, and how to build a session board.
Once I shared how the afternoon would work, we built our session board. Teachers grabbed little tags and they tagged which sessions they would like to attend. It was so awesome to see! Teachers were excited, anticipating what was to come, and the session board started taking shape.
After the tags were up and everyone shared their interests, TOGETHER, we moved sessions around, added and changed sessions, and made sure the rooms fit. I gave them a few more tidbits, shared the backchannel and how it worked through Today’s Meet, and we were off!
Sessions were conversations, asking questions. Teachers moved when they needed to, helped each other, and shared great tips and tricks! I walked between sessions, shared some ideas and tricks I’ve learned, and watched the fabulous discussions taking place all around the school.
After all was said and done, we shared a “smackdown” of cool tips and tricks from the afternoon, and teachers shared their thoughts of the day through their exit ticket (old school note card style!).
In reflection, EdCamp was a blast! I am so happy I took the leap and led my staff into the EdCamp, learning from each other. One aspect I feel was missing happened to be too few facilitators for sessions, and so many teachers weren’t able to answer some of their questions or left sessions because no one was there to help propel the discussion. Despite this, it is something I want to do again in our district, on a larger scale, with more leaders/facilitators to lead the charge. My staff gave fabulous feedback, felt the experience was positive, and short of too few facilitators, learned quite a bit and had the TIME to share.
And so, this fall, I plan on doing the same, with even more teachers involved and more facilitators planned. In addition, our district is partnering with another local district, organizing a conference with concurrent sessions and an unconference. I am excited to be a part of these powerful conversations - teachers collaborating with teachers, growing and sharing their expertise.
Not everything goes perfectly the first time you give it a try, but it is worth it. For me, EdCamping our professional development was worth the risk and was an incredibly positive experience for my staff. Through reflection, some tweaking, and great conversations, our professional development can be personalized for our teachers, helping us all to grow for the betterment of our students.