Sunday, March 2, 2014

More with Less - Reflection of an EdCamp Experience




We've all heard it, doing more with less. Whether in education, with our finances or with our time, it is phrase that we continue to try and get our arms around. It is no easy task.

Listening to various educators over the weekend, this phrase echoed in my head multiple times. Over 160 strong convened in Clark Hall at 8AM on the first Saturday in March to talk education. Clark Hall is known in central Ohio as being one of the first unconventional, state-of-the-art, non-traditional academic settings for secondary students. Since its dedication in August of 2011, multiple complimentary buildings have opened across the county, state and country. The location was perfect for the day that was about to unfold.

This was:

The topics were decided on the fly and suggested as we gathered around "the board".  The sessions for the day would include: Grading Practices, 1:1, Differentiation, the OTES process, all types of technology integration, Personalization, Genius Hour and more. 

Our own professional experiences were as varied as the topics. The room was represented with pre-service teachers, first year teachers and administrators to seasoned veterans of the educational world from the classroom to technology teachers and directors. A perfect cross-section of education.

So it began. Discussions were underway and were difficult to end. We stayed on task, if that is even possible, and we never looked at our watches. The creativity was flowing, the innovation was more than just the space.

We were our own presenters, we carried the dialogue, we made it about what is happening now in education and what we could do to be better for ourselves and for our students. Opinions were respected and information shared.

It was professionally inspirational.

So here in lies the question: Can we take the philosophy of an EdCamp and infuse it with the many topics that schools/districts need to cover as part of a professional development meeting? If the district in which you work has "PD Days", is it realistic to think a staff could come together in the morning and create their own "board".  Would we have teachers that would step up and fill a slot? Could we stay focused for the morning and the day? Would the professional development of the day serve the expectations of those involved?

Would we be able to do more with our staff and the professional development they need with less structure than traditionally used in the past?

For those that have been to an EdCamp, and experienced the passion of the day, my guess is it's worth giving it a go and applying the idea of doing more with less.