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In my current Conference we have been doing small group breakouts that teachers run for several years.  It's a favorite for our teachers and they loved their sharing time so much it was one of the prerequisites when I interviewed for the position.  I love it!  But I have been wondering if we could do even more.

Why Edcamp?

During the past six years, hundreds of Edcamp events have popped up worldwide. Teachers from every corner of the globe have been organizing open opportunities for educators to collaborate and solve problems.

In spite of this growth and energy, there are still many educators who are either uninformed or skeptical of the Edcamp model for teacher professional development. Given the plethora of "silver bullets" and magical cures in education, some skepticism is healthy. It ensures that we refine and revise our beliefs through meaningful investigation.

I'm Ruining Professional Development. Want to Help? Dan Callahan

Burlington Educators Association member and Edcamp founder Dan Callahan talks about on how and why the Edcamp unconference movement has grown so quickly, and offers lessons for teachers looking to have a greater impact on their communities and world.

Balancing Safety in a Group

I work as a consultant with churches. I recently had a participant in a group who kept pushing her agenda. Her pressure was impeding the group’s progress. I gently told her she seemed unwilling to move her stake. I acknowledged that we all go there from time to time, then asked her to open up a bit. She was silent from then on. I approached her later to ask how she was doing. She said she felt hurt and shut down. She said I had singled her out and embarrassed her. I apologized, but also told her that when we have strong opinions, we sometimes fail to make space for other people’s ideas. I also asked her how I could have handled this better. She suggested that in the future I should not single someone out but speak to the group as a whole. To me that seems disingenuous.

What could I have done differently so I could serve the group without embarrassing an individual?

Facilitator’s Dilemma

Introduction to Edcamp: A New Conference Model Built on Collaboration

The edcamp model is based on the international unconference model, BarCamp. Despite its name, BarCamps have little or nothing to do with alcohol. Rather, computer hackers conceived them as a way to come together to share ideas. According the to BarCamp wiki, a BarCamp: 

  • is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment
  • is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from participants who are the main actors of the event

5-Minute Film Festival: Taking Back PD with Edcamp

If you're not familiar with the Edcamp movement, you should be! Edcamp is a teacher-organized grassroots effort to re-imagine educator professional development, born out of a desire to make it more valuable, more educator-centered, and more democratic. While the movement has grown tremendously since it started in Philly in 2010 (even earning a two-million-dollar grant from Gates in 2015), it has stayed true to its homegrown roots -- putting teachers first and creating a space for DIY professional development. Full disclosure: Edutopia has been a friend and sponsor of Edcamps around the country for many years, so you may see Edutopia goodies or familiar faces of Edutopia staff in some of the videos in the playlist below.

Edcamp: Innovation In Professional Development

Professional development (PD) opportunities for educators today are still relatively limited to seasonal workshops and conferences. While this can be the preferred model for district administrators when looking at continuing education requirements, teachers are finding ways shake up the idea of traditional ongoing professional learning opportunities.

“We’ve all been there: A mind-numbing, passive, professional development session that aims to fill up your mind with knowledge and expertise. Quite often, these types of experiences leave you drowsy and uninspired,” says Edcamp Founder Kristen Swanson.

Why Don’t We Differentiate Professional Development?

As I prepare for another afternoon of district-provided professional development activities, I always make sure that I bring plenty of work to do (papers to grade, lesson planning, etc.). This isn't because I have a bad attitude and hate professional development (PD). A great PD event can really energize me to improve my classroom instruction. However, the sad fact is that the majority of PDs I attend are repetitive, simplistic, or downright boring. I bring other work to do so that I don't get irritated when I feel that my time is being so carelessly wasted.
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