#edCampHome and #nisdpd: Taking Control of Your PD

Events:

January 4th, 2014 #edCampHome

January 6th, 2014 #nisdpd Northwest ISD Winter Professional Development Day

Premise of Events:

#edCampHome

Educators meet up through Google+ through pre-registered event organized by David Theriault, Kelly Kermode, Karl Lindgren-Steicher, and Shawn White

Pre-registered participants post in Google+ topics they would like to discuss or moderate and others can +1 or comment on that topic the day before

On the day an introduction occurs live in Google Hangouts, streamed through YouTube and followed through http://www.edcamphome.org while participants simultaneously chat/exhange ideas via Twitter. Once introductions are done and moderators are secured, invitations are sent to participants who have selected topics to participate via Google Form. Two sessions with this approach took place.

Finally, a Slam wrapped up where participants could enter into the Google Hangout and offer an application, insight or suggestion regarding some aspect of education and technology.

#nisdpd Northwest ISD Winter Professional Development Day

For the first time Northwest ISD Department of Curriculum and Staff Development turned to their own educators and expertise to provide one another the opportunity to share learning with one another. Teachers, Instructional Coaches and Curriculum Writers were given the opportunity to create, submit proposals and ultimately present relevant educational content for district employees. Participants were provided with a menu of options through an app that gave a brief description, time of scheduled PD and location.

Offerings were as vast in variety as any edCamp from what I could tell (my experience still is extremely limited). Often courses met needs for fellow colleagues that are in the moment and speak to the specific learning needs of the teachers in our district. There were two 75 minute sessions in the morning, with time for reflection and sharing on individual campuses in the afternoon. Size of the district created an interesting dynamic that resulted in secondary teachers attending professional development tailored to 6-12 grade on one high school campus and elementary teachers attending sessions tailored to K-5 instructional needs on the other high school campus.

My Role:

#edCampHome

This was my first edCamp. I was an active participant in the “Genius Hour/20% Time” and “GAFE Discussion.” I was very nervous about getting all the technology working right with the Google Hangouts (this was my first experience with Hangouts). Because of my naivete with Hangouts I played it safe with content and chose to go with content I was more familiar with rather than content I had no previous knowledge. I kept wondering if there was a protocol or etiquette to Hangouts as we met, and was I following it. However, I knew the premise from my previous research on edCamps was a round-table discussion and collaboration/sharing was essential to the success of a session.

Unfortunately, I had to leave before the Slam session was over but listened in for a little while. I hope to budget my time the next time I attend and edCamp where I can stay for the entire Slam.

#nisdpd Northwest ISD Winter Professional Development Day

I have presented at several of my District’s professional development days, but this one was different. Not only were Teachers given choice on what they would attend, but presenters were given full freedom to develop and design their training to offer. This was unprecedented and the excitement for those presenting and those participating was palatable.

During this time I was a facilitator for Eric Braun of 30Hands.com who joined us virtually through join.me and a presenter for Genius Hour. In both cases I was hoping to share ways that teachers can enhance instruction and student product through technology integration and challenge them to move into the modification and redefinition levels of learning with technology.

Reflection:

#edCampHome

This experience was a series of firsts for me. My first edCamp, Google+ active community, and Google Hangout. I was a bit overwhelmed before it even began and looking back I think that kept me from picking sessions I knew nothing about. I already was feeling like a fish out of water with all the firsts that were occurring to add to that seemed more than I was ready to process. Now I think I should have just jumped into it. I held myself back.

Despite the mistake of not jumping into unknown with more verve I did learn so much my mind was still swimming 24 hours later. I also fostered new professional relationships, and continue to have my theory that choice and social media (particularly Google+ Communities, Google Hangouts and Twitter) are the future of authentic educational professional development.

My take away that I want to explore more was from Nikki Robertson’s share during “GAFE Discussion” where she shared about her teachers using Doctopus and Goobric: http://www.nikkidrobertson.com/2013/12/google-drive-doctopus-goobric-pd-session.html

There was a word of caution from our moderator Ryan Archer, who had experienced some challenges with teachers becoming frustrated with these two Google Apps. I like the sharing and transparency that took place. Nikki’s exuberance and Ryan’s cautious bidding helped me to mentally prepare as I step into this new “try it.”

My wish was that I had not run out of time to participate. Because of time I had to leave before time was over for the Slam session for #edCampHome. This is where each person that signs up in a Google Spreadsheet Doc can share in 2 minutes or less a new technology application, idea or idea. I have heard the 20 minute Slam session is like winning the Technology Application Idea Lottery. The next #edcampHOME is in July… I will make sure to plan so that I am able to stick around for the Slam! (Here is the YouTube of the entire Instructional Before, Mid and Slam Session part of #edcamHOME: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8hvq4tHepw )

#nisdpd Northwest ISD Winter Professional Development Day

I loved this day for what it was… and the promise of what it may be progressing towards. In many ways, even though it was more structured and had more of a lecture/presentation format, it had the subtle undertones of an edCamp. People voted with their feet. Participants determined for themselves what they would attend based on their professional growth needs.

My perspective as a presenter was different from a participant, but I heard the buzz of excitement about what they learned in other sessions. I saw teachers immediately putting into action strategies, technology and instructional practices that afternoon and into the next day.

I sensed the journey of change that began about a year ago with professional development in our district, that was gradual before January 6th, go from ideas and conversations to a full on implemented head-long run into professional development designed, driven and delivered by teachers for teachers. I saw what had been pockets of collaboration blown wide open where sharing is at a frenzy, and teachers freely turn to their right or left in a room full of instructional engineers to further their own learning.

I am excited, as I said before, about the promise of what is coming. I don’t know fully what it is, but change is in the air for our district and the approach to professional development. The change, I sense is sweet and swift. It will challenge us all. It will redefine us all. Most importantly it will benefit our students and their learning in ways our imaginations can’t even begin to fathom.

Final Thoughts
While the two Professional Development opportunities I participated in were vastly different and my role was vastly different, they are similar in the deepest and most important way. They both provide choice and put the responsibility for growth and learning firmly in the hands of the educator. Traditional professional development frameworks address learning in a one-size-fits all, lecture style, sit-n-get, sage on the stage style. Both #edcampHOME and #nisdpd Northwest ISD Winter Professional Development were progressive and forward-thinking. Attendees of either or both left with knowledge and possibility that when acted upon will do what we all hope: make the experience and environment for learning for our students challenging, motivating, engaging and future-minded.

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How to Eat an Elephant…

As we begin fresh with a new year, I know many of us have recharged, reflected and refocused.  We have personal and professional goals we have set for ourselves to better ourselves, better our world and better relationships.

When my students are faced with a new and sometimes daunting task I always refer to the riddle: “How do you eat an elephant?” they always smile (some giggle) and reply, “One bite at a time.”

Before we go head long into this year fire in our belly to achieve it all, a few words of encouragement and advice that may help you take that elephant and make it bite sized.

First, if you have set a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” (BHAG) or goals… good for you!  However, with big goals there can be a lot of small accomplishments along the way.  Be sure to break it down into smaller goals and celebrate achieving those goals in between.

Second, as a connected educator I have sometimes become overwhelmed with the amount of things to learn.  Instead of trying to “swallow the elephant whole” pick one thing at a time; “eat the elephant one bite at a time.”  Challenge yourself to learn at least one new thing or take one new action with instruction per social media chat, training or PLC meeting. When teachers attend my trainings I encourage them to take one thing from my professional development courses and use it immediately; then come back and revisit the other actions, resources and tools once they are ready. I have made it a practice after participating in a Twitter PLN chat, attended a training or collaborated during a PLC to jot a quick goal statement… i.e. “I will use One Note as a way to organize information and documents in regard to how I document/track the IT support I provide to my campuses beginning 2014.”

Third, reflect on your progress, challenges and new learning that has occurred in this journey of bettering yourself and the world.  It is in this reflection period that some of the greatest learning occurs for myself and my students.  This step sometimes creates more profound learning than the learning that led up to the reflection.

Finally, share with others both your goals and the results of your journey to achieve these goals.  Everyone needs accountability and encouragement.  Additionally, your insight, learning and knowledge is as unique and valued as you are.  You matter and the message your journey toward your goals provides you matter too.

I have a few Twitter PLNs that are helping me with a few of my goals. One is #blogamonth to keep me on track to share with others my learning along the way.  The second is #500in2014 which has helped me to keep running… this year running at least 500 miles.  Setting goals is admirable, sharing with others is both heroic and a bit daunting, but knowing you have the support of a virtual or face to face community is priceless.

What are your goals for 2014? It’s not about eating and elephant whole, but one bite at a time.  Feel free to share your goals or comment.