Monday, March 28, 2011

edcamp classroom

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?


  1. Hey Mr.Kaechele, it's me again Abby Jordan. I love this idea! I completly agree with you that the administrators do have a lack of trust in their very own teachers. not only would the children be more engaged in what they are learning, but if teachers got to teach the way they wanted, they would use things that inspire them and things they are passionate about which I am sure would show in the grades and attitudes of the students. I remember being that bored student in high school thinking how did this lady ever become a teacher. If the teacher is bored then most likely the child is bored too! What a great idea to just try this new form of teaching out in every classroom and to see just how far it goes....really good things to think about! Good Luck!

  2. Hi Mr. Kaechele!
    I am a student in Dr. Strange's EDM 310 class at the University of South Alabama. This is a wonderful idea, and I feel like I can say that it works. My father is currently a robotics and band teacher at a local middle school where they implement this kind of idea for his students at his school. He has not tried this with the band program, but with the robotics class they do spend some time learning on their own, and working on personal projects that they choose to do. He finds that it give a chance for the students mind to grow and find what it is they like to do, and with this he is able to discover what projects will work best with the students and what motivates them to learn. He discovered this year he had a group of students that was very interested in circuit boards, and radio stations and programming. so he decided they would contract and FM radio station, where they build the transmitting/receiving equipment, and program/engineer the show that will be broadcasted that day. You can find more comments on this blog on my personal EDM 310 blog.

  3. Thanks Abby and Lee for stopping by. Lee, great story how your dad is already doing this with his students. Sometimes I think we just need to get out of students' way and let them learn how they want to.