Yesterday, our district took a big risk in providing an EdCamp style professional development opportunity for all of our staff. Our district has a Primary School with about 450 students in grades 4K-3 and an Intermediate School with about 500 students in grades 4-8. It was a regular school day, but the afternoon was an unannounced surprise for the students. The Primary School followed this schedule with a couple of speakers and Jump Rope for Heart with the principal and parent volunteers helping out with the students. The Intermediate School had a DJ, Wii games, board games, or silent reading time with the superintendent, myself, and teaching assistants helping out with the students. As the principal of the Intermediate School, I can say that the options for the afternoon were enjoyed by nearly every student. I got a chance to dance with the students from time to time so I was able to join in on the fun. During and after, the students asked me questions like, "How long have you been planning this?", "Can we do this every year?", "Can we do this again this year?", and my favorite, "What are the teachers doing?" I answered this by saying, "The teachers are learning while we are having fun!" The students thought that was awesome.
The teacher learning was what the day was really about. We have a team in our district called TILT (Teachers Integrating Learning Today) that planned the afternoon for the teachers. They divided the staff into four groups that moved to different rooms every 25 minutes. Each room had a different theme that was based upon the four C's (Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, and Critical Thinking). Here is a copy of each of the google presentations that were created during the afternoon.
Because I wasn't a part of the teacher learning for the afternoon, I asked some of the teachers what they thought of the day. The majority of the teachers thought that it was a great afternoon. The only comment I heard to the contrary about the afternoon was that they didn't have enough time in each session. Isn't that a great problem to have to solve? The teachers were able to learn from one another and as we say in Merton, "We are our best resource".
All in all, the day was the "Awesomest Day" for students and staff alike.