Friday, October 2, 2015

An EdCamp Period: Why Can't This Happen At Your School?

"Unfortunately, there are no procedures, no checklists, no blueprints, or manuals for being a pioneer. 
And real change very rarely arrives in a binder." David Culberhouse

When is the last time you allowed loitering, cheering, laughing, running, shoulder bumping, and organized chaos in your hallways? At 2:50 pm, student dismissal time, you could hear the commotion within seconds after the bell.  It was time! It was time to select their next EdCamp sessions by placing their names on the whiteboards on Idea Street.  For the past several weeks our students have been selecting sessions to attend, and the energy level has changed.  Yes, it's at an all time high, as the energy level is higher than I could have ever imagined. In all the years in my educational career, I have never seen anything like this before.  And, I still wonder, why are we the only school doing this?  

If you don't believe me, I encourage you to come visit us.  You will know when the EdCamp sessions are in action, as you can hear our students all around the building. If you didn't know any better, you would think that there was a fight or ruckus of some sort. Yet, it's not the obnoxious, screaming, look at me noise that you would expect.  It's pure passion, drive, and autonomous ideas in action.  I have never walked into all rooms in a hallway (Idea Street) were students are leading sessions the entire time period, pushing each other to strive higher and truly engaged in the lessons at hand.  

Reflection/Sessions since last post:

At the completion of the first week, the 8th grade team and I held a meeting to reflect. Everything and everyone was open for discussion as we all wanted it to work.  The beauty of this meeting was purely the energy of the staff.  You could sense that they too, wanted to take this to a new level. However, the best ideas didn't come from the staff or me.  So who were the geniuses to supply us with two great ideas?  Jenna and Carter, our two students that we invited to represent their class, were the difference makers.  Carter suggested that we remove the teacher's names and room numbers, so that the students had to select from the session titles.  Jenna added, that this would allow students to select based off of topics instead of heading to their favorite teacher's room where they were comfortable.  BOOM! 

This brilliant idea, one that I had discussed before at EdCamps that I had attended, was put into action. It was a way to attend sessions by title, instead of the popularity of an EduStar or favorite teacher.    

Throughout this journey, I often think of the movie Accepted, where students created a fake college and designed their own courses.  Yet, our students, just like the movie, created sessions that they look forward to attending. Students are often the most forgotten voice in schools, as they strive to move forward or "reform".  However, I still wonder. Why are there still so many teachers and administrators out there who are holding back?

*What's holding you back and how can you address it to be a change agent? 
*What is the experience you are trying to create for your school?
*Are we truly preparing our students to be agile for the shifts that are happening all around us? 
*What is holding your school back?
*Are you willing to accept student voice?
*Are you willing to allow students and staff to have freedom to innovate?
*Are you willing to try something new?

From Accepted

-Pumpkin designing based off of your favorite children book
-Take me out to the ballgame- Statistics from baseball
-World Geography- Using Kahoot  
-Art in Math
-Creating board games
-Teacher Assistant 
-Contest creative writing
-Waiting on Joaquin 
-Culture around the world

Brendan and Kevin in action
Final product

     Analyzing statistics through baseball

   Maker- Designing cars to race from scratch 

     Get Kahoot- World Geography


"Dropping a binder on someone’s desk does little to motivate anyone towards new actions, new ways of thinking, new ways of doing…towards committed change efforts." David Culberhouse