Professional Development is an expression of a community’s values #edchat #edcamp

*Warning: This is simultaneously the culmination of over a year’s worth of thinking about PD almost non-stop AND a complete rough draft of my own framework for understanding that. I’m going to embrace it by thinking in public. You have been warned.

Today I facilitated an Edcamp with the Coalition of Essential Schools. Every year they have a Fall Forum, and this year they wanted to try out having an Edcamp on the tail end. It was a pretty awesome group, with a blend of people who had attended the conference all week plus a good number of people who lived in the area and wanted to come do the Edcamp thing with us.

At some point during the morning I grabbed a picture of the schedule and tweeted it out.

Room 106 10:00 looks like a crazy miss-mash of a bunch of ideas. And it was. But it was glorious.

Here’s what I said: “An #Edcamp session board is an expression of the values of the community that builds it. Here’s what #edcampces values”

I was about halfway home before I realized that I was only partly right.

During the second session, I participated in a session about Progressive Education and Public Education. Mostly I sat and listened as the room talked about a ton of different ideas.

This makes slightly more sense if you were there.

At points the debate got a little heated, and in retrospect I realized that some aspects of the discussion, such as trying to define things like Progressive Education and the Purpose of Public Education, were also very much arguments about the values that the community holds.

Important realization of the day: Everything a community does is an expression of its values.

Given that, Professional Development is an expression of a community’s values.

If we know this and own it, how would we change the way that PD operates in our schools and organizations? Do we think the way we run PD is a reflection of what we want our values to be? Are we failing our values? How can we improve PD to better reflect those values?

This all is feeling very important to me right now. I’m increasingly feeling like all of my conversations these days keep coming back to ideas around how communities work, and how that work is informed by the things they actually care about, which is sometimes in opposition to the things they say they care about.

I’m thinking my next few posts (ack! public commitment to write!) here will take a look at 4 big buckets that I see for the ways we plan and implement PD, and try an unpack the ways they reflect the kinds of values we want to express in our environments: Content, Format, People, and Structures.

Help! I'm addicted to PowerPoint SmartArt!

think I’m going to hit those in more or less that order (although I keep going back and forth about switching Format and People), so if you have anything you’d like to say right now that you’d like me to know and/or wrestle with in terms of Content, I’d love to have you talk about it in the comments below. Or on Twitter. Or by e-mail. Or by carrier pigeon, because how cool would it be to have a message delivered by bird?

4 thoughts on “Professional Development is an expression of a community’s values #edchat #edcamp

  1. I’m so happy that you are discussing this very important issue. I look forward to your upcoming posts. I want to think more about the words, “Everything a community does is an expression of its values.” I wonder how many actions are representative of “this is the way we’ve always done it” rather than thoughtful decision making and evolution of practice. Thanks for giving an important topic your thoughtful, knowledgeable attention.
    Maureen Devlin´s last blog post ..Leader: Role Model

  2. Lots to say! Insert pigeon emoji here.

    I love your public commitment to write. Sometimes we need that for accountability! But you are listening and synthesizing your thinking and now you have your themes. That’s a really strong inspiration to write… And synthesize more. (I also love talking PD on a Saturday afternoon – you make me fee normal.)

    I agree- if it all comes back to the community, how do we lead, find leaders, and get leaders to invite the voices of all involved? Edcamp certainly does this, we know, and I find that my goal is to keep encouraging administrators everywhere to come hear the voice of the community. Once you experience that, one learns to begin to discern between what we really care about… And say we care about.

    Thanks, Dan.
    Jaclyn´s last blog post ..Blog Revival – Making the Time to WRITE

  3. Wow, I do agree that PD is or should be a reflection of community values. I think that is why the Edcamp model has taken off. Before it wasn’t about what the teachers wanted or needed to learn about, but more about what the school or District thought they (we) needed to learn about. Of course, there are those things that teachers do need to learn about to function in their buildings and Districts, but we all also need to get support in areas that maybe only some of us have an interest in growing in or to get more support, ideas, etc.
    Sara Brooks´s last blog post ..Students using Paper by @pixelpressgame Floors to design and…

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