Friday, April 11, 2014

Debating the necessity of keynotes

The EdCamp model of professional development has spread drastically this year. Each day, I am invited to a new EdCamp. In fact, this week alone, I have two EdCamps and I'm planning a small one for my high school. However, the EdCamp model is unique. It involves teachers planning the course of their own professional development. When you first arrive, there is no formal area. Instead, you're handed a Post-it note and told to write down ideas you want to learn or facilitate (not the word "facilitate" and not "teach"). Those notes are categorized into strands and, the notes that reoccur the most become sessions. Teachers look at those sessions and those who feel most confident, step up and facilitate.

It's that simple.

No keynote, no closing. Just learning. Just sharing.

So, in planning a conference - not an EdCamp, but one embodying modern professional development, do we need keynotes and closings? What is the benefit to them? Do educators get more value out of authentic sessions displayed at an EdCamp or an awing keynote/closing?

At the end of the day, what is going to get educators to go back and innovate? What is going to help them facilitate better and to help students learn? Keynote or teacher-driven sessions?

Or, is their a continuum we need to allow teachers? Do we need to, first, introduce teachers to the idea of modern professional development with innovative techniques and learning spaces? And, then, introduce the idea of EdCamps and authentic PD?

Are all teachers ready for the EdCamp model?

Last year, at our first Ninja Academy, we had teachers attend who had never gone to an educational conference designed to inspire and grow teachers. And, we did not lose any - in fact, they wanted more. So, I believe in exposing educators to new PD and getting them inspired and ready to learn. For those who are already at that point, it is important for them to branch out and facilitate.

What do you think? Do keynotes play a role in educator innovation in the classroom?

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