- Administrators should consider setting their staff meetings up as "edcamps" — a participant-driven conference — in order to boost engagement, motivation and empowerment, Michael Gaskell, principal of Hammarskjold Middle School in New Jersey, writes for eSchool News.
- Gaskell suggests picking someone with "faculty-wide influence" as an organizer, having faculty members choose topics they’re interested in and having them register for "courses" they want to attend. He also recommends scheduling room locations for each gathering, giving faculty members freedom to expand on the topic during their sessions and making sure the edcamps continue by issuing certificates of completion, sending out follow up surveys and offering new sessions based on the feedback.
- When Gaskell held an edcamp at his school, some of the sessions included podcasting, technology-efficient feedback, dealing with difficult parents, and mindfulness and yoga. Allowing teachers to pick the topics, he says, ensures that they will be motivated to participate and actually feel like they’re getting something out of the sessions.
Student-centered learning, such as project-based instruction, and center-based learning, has been gaining traction in recent years. When students have voice and choice during their day — within reasonable bounds — they are more likely to be successful and motivated.
The same, it would appear, can be said for adults. In a panel at SXSWedu in 2017, Molly McMahon, director of the Teacher's Guild, spoke on a panel about how letting educators drive innovation can yield positive benefits for a school community.
Notably, the audience of the panel was asked how they’d invest $1,000 to facilitate teacher innovation. Almost 60% said they’d “redesign teacher training,” 55% would "reimagine professional learning," 38% favored salary increases, 28% said they’d fund teachers, 17% would use the money to fund schools, and 10% said they’d invest it in teacher-centered tech.
The most popular two choices — redesigning teacher training and reimagining PD — are more or less iterations of the edcamps Gaskell is advocating for, underscoring how important, useful and appreciated such a technique could be. Another option for administrators looking to spice up and strengthen professional development are “microcredentials.” Popular in many states, microcredentials attempt to make it easier for people to master specific skills around their needs or interests. There is some concern, however, around standards for rigor, stakeholder value, oversight and incentives for earning them.