Sunday, December 25, 2016

Risk is Worth the Reward

Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone? Professional development can be a Ben Stein experience from the famous movie, Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Although school districts don't intentionally bore their staff, it happens. As an administrative team we often reflect on our practice after a professional development opportunity occurs and often come to the conclusion that there has to be a better way. Most recently we engaged in conversation about our upcoming professional development day. It was during this conversation that we decided to embark on a new way of doing business. Enter #EdCamp!
Image borrowed from
Edcamp is an unconference format in which professional development opportunities or conversations are created during the first 20-30 minutes of the experience. Essentially the agenda is a blank slate and the participants in the process fill it to capacity with their own areas of interest and passion. Here is a picture of our completed board.

Our sessions included topics, such as, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Creative Lessons, Scratch, Google Classroom, YouTube, Workload Management, Benefits, Blogging, Retirement Planning, BreakoutEDU, and others. Our facilitators included experts in the areas, staff members and students. The student involvement was neat to see. I was very proud of their willingness to come in and facilitate sessions on Snapchat and Scratch. The inclusion of students in the process was a great decision and they will most definitely be included in future Edcamps.

A collage of photos...
When we made a decision to go the Edcamp route for professional development, we knew we were taking a risk. As the Edcamp took place, it became instantly evident that the JWP staff was appreciative of this new format. At the conclusion of the event staff members completed a survey regarding their experience. 90% of staff members either agreed or strongly agreed that the Edcamp was time well spent. 10% of staff members were neutral in regards to the same question. Overall, I would consider that a success. When asked, here is what staff members said about their experience.

"The EdCamp was relevant to what I wanted to learn!"
"I got to learn more about topics I had little knowledge of, and also got to participate in discussions and throw my own ideas out for others."
"We had choices to PD so it was meaningful and useful to me."

The goal in professional development is to improve practice. The Edcamp process allowed staff members to seek out opportunities to improve in areas of need. A traditional process would have been a one size fits all approach. As we continue to shift our educational setting to providing more personalized learning opportunities for students, we felt the administration should probably model that approach. Edcamp was a risk that paid off! Thankfully, no Ben Stein experience here...

To check out our Edcamp, click here.

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