Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What happens when professional development starts a fire.

I have written regularly about professional development and my relative disgust with the majority of it, but yesterday we got it right. We had our second regional edcamp in Webster City that included several surrounding districts. Before we launched our edcamp, we had the great fortune to hear @willrich45 speak about the future of education. I (and I should say, we) came away with some transformative takeaways:
  • They way we "educate" our students has not really changed much over the last 60 years.
  • Technology has not transformed education.
  • There has to be a fundamental shift from teaching (I would say education) to learning.
  • They way we are doing school is not going to be sustainable. 
  • There is nothing more predictable as school, and nothing less predictable than life. 

So, after he spoke (and as he was speaking) the twitterverse started buzzing with the #edcampwc. They were saying things like:

Ts know what needs to happen to change schools. How do you convince outside interests the need for these changes? #edcampwc

Vision is articulated at this school! Kids want to learn more because it is REAL! #edcampwc - Speaking of the norms set out by Mount Vernon High School in Atlanta, Georgia.

"Can't" and "won't" are different. We need to recognize that difference and what's preventing us from change in our schools. #edcampwc

How do we let kids organize their learning when we have to teach a basal curriculum at a set pace? #EdCampWc #WhatIsFirstStep?

Schools are cultures of teaching. They should be cultures of learning! #edcampwc

And there were plenty more. Search #edcampwc for the feed.

But, what I saw here were people brave enough to say, "this is the change we need. Now, how are we going to do that?"

That hadn't happened before. So, what happens when professional development develops your teachers? What happens when your teachers now expect action? Isn't action required if you have developed your teachers to need it.?

The answer is yes. Change is needed.

Your comments are welcomed and encouraged,

Dane Barner


  1. Saw the tweets during the day. Sounds like a great day of learning. I wish I had an answer to the "if it was good enough for me" crowd, but I don't. It should scare people that we are teaching their children in the same way they were taught, but there is comfort in what we know, I guess.

    I'm finding it scares kids too when we change things up too much for them. I get a lot of "just tell me what you want" attitudes. I keep plugging away, giving choice and voice and working to a middle ground between the old and the new. Overall, I think change is scary for most people ...

  2. Dane,
    Educational change does start from the ground up. No systematic change from top down will do it. I work with several schools in NE Iowa on developing Personalized PD within the whole district. The idea is to give teachers what they need most to make changes happen with their instruction...TIME! Here is one website that houses everything for one particular district for their Personalized PD: There are videos on the main page and the Videos page that explain everything. Let m know if you have questions or connect with me on Twitter (@jbormann3).