Saturday, October 13, 2012

Kettle Run's First Edcamp: A Reflection

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.


peg said...

Awesome! I am inspired to work to create one for my school. Questions: Topics of Parent/Teacher roundtable and Teacher/Student roundtable? How else might you improve this for your next in-house edcamp? What surprised you the most? What happened that you expected? Who was most inspired by the edcamp model of PD and was that a surprise?

Thank you so much for sharing!
Peg Gillard @gracinginfinity

Reed Gillespie said...

Peg, thanks for taking the time to read the blog. We had created a series of talking points for both roundtables, but the conversation was so free-flowing that we didn't really use them (I felt bad for the student who had taken the time to write out answers to the questions that I had provided them several days before).

The starting question for the parents-and it just flowed from there-was, "What expectations do you have of teachers?" I was sure to also provide the parents with time to ask their own question and comment at the end of the session.

For the students, the starting questions were, "What qualities do you look for in teachers?" and "How would you improve your classroom experience?"

What most surprised me? I was thinking the student-teacher roundtable would be an opportunity for teachers to learn from students. In the end, I think both sides learned, but I thought the students' voices were drowned out by the teachers' voice. It was tough position for the students to challenge their teachers.

Finally, I'm not sure who was most inspired. Suffice it to say, that the feedback we received from the teachers told us that it was a great day of learning and one we'll do again--something that doesn't happen too often with other professional development days.

Good luck with creating your own edcamp. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.