Posts Tagged With: EDCAMP

EDCAMP Millennial – New Teachers Are Different

Most individuals entering the teaching profession today are different.

They’re part of the Millennial generation, born sometime after 1982 and before 2004, and are often referred to as Generation “Y” or Generation “Me.” It is widely believed that each generation comes with a set of common traits and Millennials are known, on the one hand for their confidence and tolerance, but on the other hand for a sense of entitlement and narcissism. Baby Boomers like me (who, by the way, consider ourselves to be work-centric, independent, goal-oriented, and competitive) often focus in on these more negative traits when talking about the Millennials. We have a hard time wrapping our heads around why they aren’t more like us.

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I recently read an article about the 5 Key Traits Millennial Consumers Share and started thinking about the large number of new teachers who are part of the Mentorship Program in my District this year. The 5 traits listed below are very evident in this group and our year of Mentorship has evolved into something completely different as a result.

  1. Millennials expect technology to simply work–so you’d better make sure that it does.
  2. Millennials are a social generation—and they socialize while consuming (and deciding to consume) your products and services.
  3. They collaborate and cooperate–with each other and, when possible, with brands.
  4. They’re looking for adventure (and whatever comes their way).
  5. They’re passionate about values–including the values of companies they do business with.

Our Mentorship program consists of a number of components throughout the year including 8 evening supper sessions where about 80 new teachers, mentors and District staff come together for sessions that support new teachers. A schedule is usually created at the beginning of the year based on new initiatives and feedback from the previous year. Traditionally, the sessions are led by District staff and the mentors are there to provide our new teachers with wisdom and advice.

Well this year something very interesting has happened. By mid year it became obvious that this particular group of new teachers wanted something more than ‘sit and get’ learning. They wanted more brought to the table. They craved learning in a way that’s highlighted in the 5 points listed above. So, in an effort to respond to their needs we stepped away from our traditional learning model and held an EDCAMP type evening this past February. I was familiar with the EDCAMP model after attending a few myself and organizing one when I was a principal earlier in my career. When the evening arrived I was expecting the mentor teachers to sign up and lead the majority of the sessions. After all, they were the ones with most of the knowledge and experience. By doing so they could then lead conversations that would engage the new teachers in a collaborative setting. But that’s not what happened at all. Fourteen of the fifteen sessions were added to our board and led by the new teachers. (see the board below) Our mentors were happy to step back and allow the newbies to take charge, sharing their learning and ideas. Not once during the evening did our new teachers appear uncomfortable with the format. In fact, they embraced it and were highly engaged the entire evening.

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The point I’m trying to make here is that this is yet another example of how we need to let go of our traditional beliefs around Education. Not only is learning changing for kids, it is also changing for these Millennials who are entering the teaching profession. If we want teachers who are life long learners and who are fully engaged in the transformation of our Education system we need to understand who they are and what makes them tic. My plan is to do that going forward.

Categories: 21st Century Learning, Capacity Building, Education Transformation | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Our Own Little EDCAMP

“I don’t get it.”

We heard this comment from more than one teacher when describing EDCAMP leading up to our November 2nd school-based professional learning day. Some of them were having a hard time wrapping their brain around the concept, and rightly so. For many, there is still this deep-rooted view of a PD model where an ‘expert’ imparts knowledge to a group, the group listens, then takes what they want from the presentation. In my experience, this model almost always provides excellent strategies and ideas that rarely make it into daily practice. There is usually little or  no opportunity for colleagues to get together to further explore the idea.

But a culture of collaboration and capacity building has been steadily growing in my school for the last few years and most of the staff were intrigued by the possibilities of an EDCAMP, so we decided to give it a go. We asked our staff of 60 to consider two questions in the time leading up to the big day.

  1. What are some learning experiences that would be relevant to me?
  2. What are some learning experiences that I would be willing to lead in?

On November 2nd at 8:15 a.m. we gathered in the “garage” (an open space in the core of our school) for coffee and muffins. On the whiteboard was a large blank schedule for the day. As part of the opening remarks we showed this short clip to set the stage, then invited the group to start filling in the schedule. It was amazing to watch. Over coffee, wonderful conversation started to take place and once the first staff member approached the board others soon followed. About 20 minutes later we had no fewer than 14 sessions set for the day.

 

Staff members were asked to give a quick explanation of their session and in keeping with the EDCAMP philosophy, the group decided whether or not that session would stay on the schedule. It was also agreed that individuals would be free to come and go from sessions as they saw fit, based on their own learning needs. No offence was to be taken by anyone. At 9:00 a.m. we made our way to the first sessions.

As I walked throughout the school that morning I witnessed an extremely high degree of staff engagement. Talk about drive 3.0. There was an amazing sense of ownership of their own learning; no texting, no whispering to a friend, no nodding off. The most difficult part of the day was trying to keep to our schedule. Nobody wanted to leave the work they were involved in.

At 12 noon, with 14 sessions complete, we came together for some final reflection. I listened intently as individuals described the days learning as relevant to them. Many said it gave them much-needed time to sit down with colleagues to discuss important topics and plan for further action. A number of new “go to” people emerged as well, who were previously reluctant to identify themselves as an expert on a particular strategy or tool. We further bonded as a staff on that day and everyone thought we should definitely do this again.

Awhile back I read that if transformation of our education system is going to be realized, teachers need to be at the center and not on the periphery of change. When we give them control of their own learning, we are placing them in the middle. If you try an EDCAMP at your school you are definitely doing this.

Categories: 21st Century Learning, Capacity Building, Community Engagement | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

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