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Teachers Lead Their Own Professional Development With 'Edcamps'

Teachers Lead Their Own Proffesional Development With 'Edcamps'

In order to keep up with students driving their own education, teachers are finding new ways to enhance their professional development through driving their own Edcamp movement.

Educators are now leading their own professional development with Edcamp, "an international network of free, one-day 'unconferences' where agendas and sessions aren’t determined until educators arrive in the morning and suggest topics," according to an article on "The individual sessions themselves are free-form discussions guided by the educators involved."

“If we don’t put teachers in the kind of learning environments that we want for our kids, they won’t know how to create them for our kids,” said Kristen Swanson, a founder of the Edcamp movement and former tech director for a Pennsylvania school district.

The Edcamps, the article said, "are organized by superintendents, district administrators, principals and teachers. They often take place on weekends in high schools, libraries or other public spaces that can be used free of charge. About 600 Edcamps have been held in 15 countries since the movement began in 2010."

"Using social media for PD and connecting students with outside experts and professionals have been frequent topics covered in recent Edcamps," the article said. "Another popular subject has been Google Apps, which more teachers are using to collaborate with their classes."

According to the article, "another common session is called 'Things That Suck,' which, Swanson says, isn’t as crass as it sounds."

"The session begins with someone suggesting a topic, such as homework. In the ensuing debate, others may argue why homework 'rocks,'" Swanson said. “What we see with Edcamp—because the events are often organized by principals and district leaders and teachers, and because the day is highly social and interactive—is that people form lasting social bonds. If you look on Twitter, people continue to connect over the topics they talked about for six months after the event.”

Kristina Peters, a Nebraska Department of Education e-learning specialist and former elementary school teacher who organizes Edcamp Omaha said that Edcamp topics "are ahead of the curve compared to other PD offerings because teachers drive the sessions."

“Edcamp is about a different way of doing PD,” she said. “When teachers and educators are trusted enough to drive their own learning, it makes a huge difference compared to traditional PD.”

Read the full story and comment below. 

Article by Kassondra Granata, Education World Contributor

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