I’m loving the new movement towards Ed Camps. The idea of taking control of our own staff development is a long time overdue. I’m so excited, a colleague and I are going to host our own Ed Camp in March.
I don’t mind that administrators try to ensure that we continue honing our craft. In fact, I think it’s an often overlooked component of what we do. We talk about being “life-long learners,” but with a family, attempts at outside hobbies, papers to grade, lessons to plan (even if only in my head), and life to live, it’s tough to get find time to work on being a better teacher. Sometimes I’m blown away by the books others read, the conferences attended, and projects completed by so many of my peers. If I’m honest, they make me somewhat self-conscious. I don’t like having my inadequacies pointed out by someone else’s competency.
So, I’m glad that we have staff development, excuse me, professional development. No one asked me, but I would have gone with Staff Training and Development just for fun.
The problem though is that this well intended element of our profession is dominated by people who don’t do what we do. They taught one to twenty-five years ago, but we all know how quickly teacher amnesia sets in. Heck, I forget how to teach over Spring Break.
So Ed Camps are the way to go. To be clear, not the Ed Camps that are really Staff Training and Development with a new name, but the REAL Ed Camps. Those lead by teachers with teachers as students and collaborators.
We know that ownership and relevance are important when learning. If we do our jobs right, we’re trying to give these things to our students. The question though is if we know what’s important for learning, why am I sitting in a theater listening to someone go over differentiation for the fifteenth time without the presenter even attempting to discuss relevance.
Jack Hussard says meaningful learning comes from the following:
- Non-arbitrary, non-verbatim, substantive incorporation of new knowledge into cognitive structure.
- Deliberate effort to link new knowledge with higher order concepts in cognitive structure
- Learning related to experiences with events or objects.
- Affective commitment to relate new knowledge to prior learning.
Ed Camps, by giving teachers control of their learning, do these things. I’m going to my first Ed Camp next weekend. In my sixteen years of teaching, I’ve never been more excited about a training or conference.
There are many ways teachers can take back control of our profession. I’m excited to be a part of whatever comes next.