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:
To follow the complete discussion, click here.
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