This was written by our friend and colleague Chris McCullough (a #redcampchamp.) He is a high school teacher in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. He blogs here and tweets here. This post was originally found here.
If you've watched the video about edcamps in the original post on this blog, I hope you've come to understand a little bit about the power of intrinsic motivation and autonomy. With regards to Teacher Professional Development, this seems to be a new concept. Personally I believe many teachers in North America have forgotten how important it is to maintain the professionalism and art that is teaching.
As teachers, we have to do more than handout worksheets, and get students to fill in the answers. As an example, I recently had a conversation with a colleague who explained that a student of hers was complaining that her Social Studies school work was too hard. "Couldn't we just complete worksheets, you know, the kind where the answers are in each chapter of the textbook?" This is an interesting dilemma for a teacher; the idea that a student would complain that their assignments made them think, create, and problem solve. As Professionals it is important that teaching is much broader than handing out questions. Great teachers engage, discuss, and get their students thinking. Teacher Professional Development should be like this too. The #edcamp model is a great example of how this could work, and I truly hope that teachers throughout Central Alberta will give this kind of learning a try. Teachers love to "talk shop" and this un-conference does just that!
In life, the answer isn't always at the back of the book, and I believe when it comes to teacher Professional Development this is true too. As a profession, we can't be the students who are complaining that they have to think at school. We have to embrace our learning needs, wants, and challenges. We can't let people do this for us. If we do, then we are just technicians, we are less than professionals. Professionals always try to better themselves, so why not try #redcamp. It's local, it's free, and it may just be the kind of Professional Development you're looking for.
For further information, check out this great TED talk by Kristen Swanson.