Day 101 (of 184) spiralling an edcamp
‘We don’t talk about education as much as we should’ – that was a comment from a colleague as we were talking about the educational change we are encouraging.
We were chatting about the growth of our mini-edcamps and it’s influence on our respective staffs – specifically the mindset that there are/need to be many ‘entry points’ to be part of educational change.
The parallel we were talking about was my schools shift from report cards to eportfolios (and the min shift from ‘reporting student achievement’ to ‘communicating student learning’) and the fact that I am trying not to push too much (I probably push a bit more than I consciously think I do) because this change needs to be significantly owned by the teachers of the school: even though I could provide ‘a’ methodology/template to follow, I will do my part as a teaching principal, but as part of the team exploring, sharing, asking questions and learning.
Likewise with our mini-edcamps: as we are modelling a gradual guided release of responsibility, we are:
– providing some ‘anchor’ topics to start discussions, but we don’t ‘own’ the discussion prompts and in fact want to have the edcamp participants go ‘off script’ (I want my staff to think & question & talk about more than just eportfolio formats, though it is an anchoring discussion prompt)
– starting small by just doing a single discussion time but still encouraging the infamous ‘vote by your feet’ mindset that makes edcamps unique (not everyone is doing the same amount of ‘jumping in’ to the eportfolios, some are ‘dipping in their toe’ to start)
– continuing the ‘backchat’ so that people can take part in elements of the various conversations. (We do a lot of chatting around the staffroom table and in the hallway with a lot of sharing going on as the eportfolios can easily be accessed through the iPads they are using)
– having a bigger plan: we are doing mini-edcamps around our district with the not-so-secret plan of preparing our bigger learning community for a full-day edcamp (including the conclusionary sucks/doesn’t suck) with educators who are comfortable with the flow of edcamps and an interest in talking about issues in education – being active participants in professional development, not passive receptors. (Much like we are looking at sharing our journey in exploring eportfolios and have others ‘join in’ when they are ready to make a shift).
It’s an exciting time to be in education because it is becoming easier and more acceptable to ‘talk education’ – instead of the statement ‘we don’t talk shop tonight’ we are talking shop: on twitter, via blogs, and still valuing the face-to-face opportunities that methodologies such as edcamps provide to further expand professional learning networks! The more we talk, the more comfortable we will be in taking some risks doing some education different. And I still feel that education today should not look the same as it did decades ago (and part of my discussion points around the benefits of sharing eportfolios).