This weekend I will attend Edcamp Baltimore. (@edcampbmore) To be honest, I should be dreading it. To make it on time from my Richmond, Virginia home, I will have to pull out of my driveway no later than 4:45 am. I am then going to drive three hours there and three hours back. And what will I do when I get to Baltimore? Sit through hours of Professional Development! Ugh!
Then, why am I this excited? How excited am I? Ridiculously excited!
The term Professional Development has fallen into ill repute as of late. Staff members cower in fear when Staff Development days are announced. This is an unfortunate turn of events. Professional Development, should be exciting and eagerly anticipated. What could be better then learning something new? Taking that new knowledge and improving your building or classroom! Watching students grow because you took time to grow. Wow, the opportunities and possibilities are endless!
Why then, can I anticipate a flurry of sick calls on these wondrous days?
Shhhhhhhhh, because a LOT of staff development sucks.
Simple, we aren't following our own classroom expectations. Have a teacher with 26 years of experience sit and learn the same stuff as a teacher with 3 months of experience. Hmmm... Rigor/Differentiation? Having the music teacher, math specialist, and reading recovery teacher sitting in the PD for science. Hmmm... Relevance? "Experts", that are brought in, paid big $$$, and then leave never to return. Hmmm... Relationships?
Edcamp is nothing like this. You arrive with your strengths and weaknesses out front, find people to help you with your weaknesses, and then you could be the expert in the next session. Being and interacting with positive people who share your desire to learn and willingly share their knowledge creates an environment of trust. Where trust grows, learning flourishes. You won't find anyone grading papers or ignoring the presenter. You may find some people on their cell phones, but that is only because they are using back channels of communication and including others by using your hashtag. (At least that's what I tell myself.) Once I leave, the learning doesn't stop. Matter of fact the learning only improves! You have strengthened your PLN, found experts to help you, and deepened your knowledge.
Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships.... Good teaching expectations, good Professional Development!
Take advantage of an edcamp in your area; grow, learn, and share. To my colleagues attending Edcamp Baltimore, I look forward to seeing you bright and early Saturday morning. All energy drinks (my weakness, as I don't drink coffee) will be welcomed and drunk with relish.