Friday, September 24, 2010

An Unconference Approach To Professional Development On Monday At BHS

What PD used to look like.

On Monday we will attempt the unthinkable at BHS. We are going to have a Professional Development experience that fulfills the needs of all teachers! It is my firm belief that this day will not be another in a long line of experiences where the words Professional Development can be considered oxymoronic.

As educators know, in many cases PD Days are typically experiences that offer little engagement or relevance.  Typically, the people (administrators) in charge of setting up the days do a poor job of communicating with staff about what they would find beneficial.  This usually leads to a day where staff has little or no choice and the result is little to no impact back in the classrooms.

However, Monday's PD has been designed by teachers for teachers. Our Superintendent sent out a blank schedule on a Google Doc. a few weeks back and asked teachers to fill in the slate and lead sessions on topics that interest them.  Yes, we decided to replicate the edcamp concept for our PD Day.  Check out the great schedule below that our staff at the high school created! There are multiple sessions in each timeframe that I am excited about!

I am cannot wait to get the teacher feedback from sessions and hear what they want to see more of as we continue this new model of PD.  My mind is racing with follow-up steps, but for now I will just get past Monday.  


  1. I'm truly psyched about Monday. Some of the teachers from the FL Dept. took a course on Skype and Audacity this summer at WPI. Our prof is coming to BHS to teach us more skills on Audacity, which is one of our new programs in our recently updated language lab. I'm looking forward to the hands-on experience in our new lab. Thank you, Mr. Larkin, for a PD Day like this.

  2. I think this is terrific. giving teachers opportunity to find some new tools and how to use them. I was especially excited to see Mr Calvin's contribution. As a parent, I was more impressed with his use of technology in 9th grade honors English than I was about the talk that Angela Maiers gave at Back to School Night! Enjoy, learn, and implement! Thank you to all the teachers who are taking a risk and learning about the new tools.

  3. Yes, I'm one of those teachers who is truly stepping out of her comfort zone, taking a risk, engaging and employing tech in the classroom and willing to learn more. I'm a foreign language teacher who wishes to learn her students' language, that of technology. The French have a saying, « l'appétit vient en mangeant », which means that one's appetite is increased when one consumes good food. After pursuing courses on 21st century tech and how to implement them into my curriculum, I, too wish to learn even more. I love this. In fact, just this past week, two of my classes used the current vocabulary and grammatical concepts to produce Raps and Fashion Shows. My students taught me how to record them on IPods and cell phones and to send them to You Tube. This was so much fun for all of us. I'm a part of a past generation who had limited access to tech. I'm a life-long learner who is willing to get my feet wet and to learn even more.

  4. I attended Edcamp Philly and was so motivated afterwards. I think that most educators want to do interesting and innovative things and share great resources, but are bogged down by limitied time and/or support. I continue to be inspired by your blog. I'm excited to find out how the "unconference" works in the context of a professional development day.

  5. Michelle - In my mind the unconference was a message from teachers saying, we can do a better job on our own. I think that it was amazing and a testament to the passion of these wonderful educators who came up with the idea of Edcamp and then gave up their time on a weekend to get their own Professional Development.

    There is no reason that educators shouldn't be able to get high-quality PD from their schools. Administrators have to just let go a little bit and trust the wonderful professionals that they have hired to be in their classrooms. If we want teachers to have classrooms that are student-centered (learner-centered). Then I think we have to set up PD experiences that are learner-centered.

    Thanks for the comment. I will be writing a recap of today's events very soon!