As I help prepare for edcamp Detroit I came across this post by M.E. Steele Pierce. She does an excellent job describing how empowering edcamps are by giving teachers control and choice in regards to their professional development. I will not regurgitate her thoughts here. Go read her post instead.
One quote from her post:
“Because edcamps are seen as unstructured, even chaotic, schools and district offices think there is no validity in them,” says principal Eric Sheninger. “I would like to see schools and districts give up that control.”
I have been thinking about why administrators may be slow to accept this kind of PD. I think it all comes down to lack of control of content and trust that useful things will get done. Control and lack of trust-how many times does this come up in education? That is why we have NCLB and RTTT. Politicians, the media, and the general public do not trust educators as professionals and seek to control the quality of schools through things like Common Core curriculum and standardized testing. We wouldn't want teachers or students to actually have a say in how learning will proceed.
Just as educators crave to learn with each other in an unstructured environment, so do students! Why not schedule an edcamp day or week at school? It would not have to be scheduled the day of, but perhaps the week before. Students could choose their own topics and sign up for a teacher's room to learn together at a certain time. The topics would be left up to students. Teachers would be present, but could be prohibited from speaking unless asked to. Who knows what students might choose to learn from each other? I guarantee that teachers would learn about students' passions and could then use that to influence their future lessons.
I know what some people will say. What if students just waste the day? (I never have students who waste time in my class. Ever! Yeah, right.) What if they just want to talk about Justin Beiber?
Again too much of school is about control and lack of trust. Let's give students a chance to show how they would use time to learn. So what do you think? How could you implement this idea in your class, grade, or even your entire building?