#EdChat Summary: 11-8-11

Topic: More and more Edcamps are springing up nationally. What are the advantages/disadvantages of edcamps/TeachMeets vs traditional PD?

This was a challenging #edchat for me, mostly because I am not a teacher and so don’t have much experience with traditional professional development in the education sector.  Still, it seemed like all the standard complaints about “traditional PD” are present for educators: from boring and irrelevant sessions to instructors who actually have no idea how to do the job themselves.

Enter EdCamps and TeachMeets.  I had to read between the lines on these a little throughout, but from what I gathered, these are response movements to the ineffective PD that teachers have been subjected to for far too long.  There are best described as conferences set up for teachers, by teachers.  If you want to learn more about them, the always-helpful Cybrary Man has a page devoted to both.

The major advantage to these events is that they are put together not by some bureaucratic team who thinks that education should work this way or that way, but by those on the front lines – the teachers themselves.  Teachers create the sessions, teachers lead the sessions, and teachers give feedback on the sessions.  And from the sound of it, they do a great job keeping teachers motivated and providing them with great ideas for improving their classrooms.

Main themes from the discussion:

¨       Frustration with traditional PD was a definite one in the beginning.  Teachers complained about being told how to do their jobs by people who had never taught a real class one day in their lives (or who had forgotten what it was like).  They felt like the PD that they got wasn’t always the best, even if their school support system was generally fairly good.

¨       Many teachers, it seemed, had never heard of EdCamps or TeachMeets – and still more had never attended one.  I think a lot of teachers approached this discussion viewing these two relative newcomers to the PD scene with skepticism.  They were supposedly disorganized and chaotic.  That’s a myth the experienced hands took great care to dispel.

¨       EdCamps and TeachMeets got rave reviews from those that had attended.  Most people in the discussion seemed to have more experience with EdCamps, perhaps because TeachMeets are more prevalent abroad.  As well, EdCamps can be scaled down to the level of an individual school, which can make them much more affordable to attend and much more focused on a school’s local issues.

¨       An inability to attend worthwhile events (like EdCamps and TeachMeets) was another frustration voiced semi-regularly.  Teachers who want to attend often have to pay their own way entirely (non regretted it).  These movements are not quite strong enough for schools to recognize their value and pay to send teachers to them.  But they are certainly getting there.

My favorite Tweets from the discussion:

JamesLizamore RT @tomwhitby: Edcamps are student centric, but the students are teachers. #Edchat

rliberni RT @tomwhitby@mdmcneff The sessions [of EdCamps] are determined by volunteers comfortable leading a discussion on the topic. It could be anything. #edchat

cybraryman1 @alainphaneuf EdCamp programs happens spontaneously. The Teach/Meet model is more structured so you do know in advance. #edchat

CTuckerEnglish Edcamps feel like a true coming together of people who want to learn & share their knowledge. It feels like a celebration. #edchat

rliberni RT @CTuckerEnglish: Edcamps give people what they want. You put an idea up & vote with your feet. So easy. No applications. Just great ideas. #edchat

cybraryman1 @alainphaneuf I learned so much from attending edcamps & TeachMeets and wish they were in existence when I taught #edchat

CTuckerEnglish After attending EdCampSFBay, I was energized, excited & ready to share what I learned. http://t.co/7pf99aiN #edchat

tomwhitby Anyone can Join the Teachmeet/Edcamp Organizer Group They will help you with questions on edcamps. http://t.co/Wt9wQYVR #Edchat

CoachB0066 Nice to have presenters lead discussions when they are not getting paid! Provides a level of integrity to the discussion/learning opportunity. #edchat

Yrdsblib I have yet to find board-offered PD that really gives me what I need. That always comes from other teachers. #edchat

blairteach @mattguthrie Next time you see an #edcamp, find out if it will be streamed then encourage district decision-makers to watch sessions. #edchat

tomwhitby PD at Edcamp is driven by need and interest and not what is trendy, although it could be trendy as well #Edchat

rliberni RT @drdouggreen@cybraryman1 You should try the 140 character format where all presenters get ten minutes and there is only one room. #edchat

cybraryman1 @MissKellyTeach TeachMeets are more popular overseas. Teach Meet page (lists overseas ones) http://t.co/eM87KlGv #edchat

mikevigilant RT @tomwhitby: People who attend Teachmeets and Edcamps come away with an enthusiasm to do one of their own, or at least to return to another. #Edchat

cybraryman1 Smackdown session which is a 2-minute show and tell happens at most edcamps http://t.co/mzEcVyNH #edchat

Mamacita Sessions of nothing but sitting passively still don’t work for kids – & they don’t work for us, either. Are you listening, admin? #edchat

cybraryman1 I have attended 7 #edcamp/TeachMeets & there is no doubt to me they are far superior to the PD I got in my 32 yr teaching career. #edchat

cybraryman1 Another great advantage is that these events are free (thanks to sponsors). See #edcampFoundation http://t.co/rrkjk9Td#edchat

Mamacita The main problem I have with a conference isn’t the content – it’s the cost. I simply can’t afford most of them. #edchat

cybraryman1 @rliberni Sponsors pick up costs. Many schools host site for free. Sponsors pay for food (in many cases), door prizes, handouts #edchat

drdouggreen @Mamacita Conferences should be fee or cheap. The 140 conferences are a great model. #edchat

mritzius The real vision of #edcamp is to have it happen at the school level. Events are just step one #edchat

To follow the complete discussion, click here.

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5 Responses to #EdChat Summary: 11-8-11
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