New approaches to professional development:” Edcamps and unconferences”

From the Answer Sheet in the Washington Post:

By Valerie Strauss

This was written by M.E. Steele-Pierce, who works at the intersection of policy and practice as a district superintendent for West Clermont Schools in Pennsylvania where, she says, it’s all personal. An alum of the Harvard Change Leadership Group and currently a member of Powerful Learning Practice , a professional development company that work s with educators and that has a blog on which this post appeared. She considers herself a creative bureaucrat in terested in how individuals and systems change. Steele-Pierce is a contributor to the blog TLC: Teaching. Learning, Community and is on Twitter at @steelepierce. In this post, Steele-Pierce writes in part about the “edcamp movement,” which is an alternative to traditional professional development in that the attendees play a big role in the design of the sessions.

By M.E. Steele-Pierce

“Most PD stinks.”

That was not the answer I anticipated when I asked Dan Callahan, one of the founders of the edcamp movement in the United States, to what he attributes the growing phenomena of edcamps across the nation.

“May I quote you on that?” I laughed, then shared with Dan that my department and I were in the midst of planning a PD day for 500 teachers. I wasn’t offended. I knew Dan’s perspective was spot-on.

“PD is something that should be a powerful experience to help people improve their craft, but it’s got a really bad rep now,” he said. “Teachers are looking for professional development that meets their needs and interests. Frequently, professional development provided by school districts does neither of those things.”

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