The unconference movement has been huge in the past couple of years with dozens of opportunities popping up all over North America for educators to participate in grassroots professional development efforts called edcamps. My short explanation of the whole unconference idea is that it is educators getting together and saying the following about professional development: "We can do better on our own!"
Or as Kristen Swanson, one of the organizers of the the edcamp that started it all, Edcamp Philly, said in her recent TedX Talk in Philly "it is teachers taking control of their own learning." Check out the clip from Kristen's Ted Talk below.
As school leaders, I think it is imperative that administrators experience the power of unconferences. In discussing the concept of an unconference at the MSSAA Summer Institute last week, I asked my colleagues what the best part of the conference was for them. As I suspected, my fellow administrators indicated that the best part of the conference was the smaller informal discussions that people had after the formal session when they could lead the conversation and lead their own learning.
The description from Edcamp Vancouver sums this up very well:
We would like to take the best part of conferences, which in our opinion are the conversations between the attendees, and turn these into the focus of the conference. We would like everyone to be expected to share what they know.Unfortunately, I think we as administrators may be part of the problem in that we provide PD opportunities for our teachers in the same way that it has been traditionally provided for us. With this in mind, Burlington High School will host the first Edcamp geared towards school administrators on August 20th from 8-12.
It is an exciting time to be an educator, but it is also an overwhelming time with new reforms, new technologies, etc. It is sometimes unclear where to begin. Join us on August 20th and you can decide where to begin!
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