A special thanks to Kim Ritter, for co-writing this article and for co-organizing the edcamp.
On the Monday, October 8th In-Service Day, Kettle Run High School teachers and administrators participated in their first Edcamp or KRHS Unconference. After beginning the day with a quick greeting and orientation, schedules for the day were distributed. From this evolving menu, each staff member chose to go to 2 one-hour long sessions and 3 thirty-minute sessions. At the conclusion of the workshops, faculty gathered in their departments for a focused discussion on the day followed by an entire staff debriefing in the auditorium.
Signs that it was a great day of professional development:
· Teachers were actively engaged, asking questions and taking notes as opposed to the traditional PD where teachers are grading papers, reading books, playing on their cell phones, crocheting, etc.
· Conversations continued past the bell. Walking around the cafeteria, discussions regarding morning sessions continued.
· The edcamp reflections completed at the end of the day also reflected that each session offered valuable insight and information.
Feedback received from teachers:
· “I was glad to see the faculty members break out of their departments and attend workshops by other disciplines. This helps to encourage cross curricular activities that can incorporate today’s technology…It was also very helpful to have an end of the day department meeting to exchange ideas and information.”
· “The day gave us a chance to learn what innovative ideas other teachers are using in their classrooms. We get so caught up in our own rooms that we forget to access all of the talent that is around us every day.”
· “[The day] was a wonderful opportunity for staff to engage in conversation about what is happening in their classrooms and to share those resources with each other.”
· “Let’s make sure we do this again next year. I’m definitely leading a session next year.”
· “It’s too bad we don’t have the opportunity to do this more often.”
Changes for next year:
· Because there was no pre-signing up for sessions, several facilitators/session leaders expressed frustration with not knowing how many copies to run-off. Next year, we’ll make better use of online storage options (Google drive, Dropbox, our course management software). One of the problems I foresee, however, is teachers may not have real-time access to these because many of our school provided laptops don’t keep sufficient battery charge.
· Expanding and improving the parent-teacher roundtable and student-teacher roundtable.
Science department chair Tammy Hagan led one of the more popular sessions on creating foldables. Because of the session’s popularity it was repeated in the afternoon.
Twenty-eight staff members led 33 sessions over the course of the day. Truly a school-wide experience, one popular session incorporated a parent/teacher roundtable and another a student/teacher roundtable.