Education Opinion

Teacher Led PD: Overturn the Narrative, Create Something Beautiful

By Justin Reich — July 23, 2012 2 min read
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Let me preface this post that there is no way I can accurately express just how AWESOME Twitter Math Camp 2012 (#TMC12) was. - Lisa Henry

This is the introduction to Lisa Henry’s post “Best PD Ever” about their guerilla-PD style math camp. In the spirit of the EdCamp movement, a bunch of teachers who knew each other online got together to become better teachers. And an adorable group they are. Look at them:

All of this teacher-led PD disrupts the pernicious narrative that our teachers are lazy or incompetent, that they are hunkered down behind union contracts waiting for their pension to vest, and that we need constantly rotating leadership, constantly rotating reforms, constantly rotating turnaround schools to fix our shattered system.

In it’s place, Math Camp and similar events tell a story of teachers leading the march towards better instruction, better outcomes for students, and more meaningful learning by pooling their shared experience and working together to create better classrooms and schools. In an age of a soul-crushing standardization and the reduction of teaching to poorly-designed tests and improperly used value-added scores, we need to celebrate our teachers’ incredible commitment to students embodied in an event like Math Camp (and the hundreds of other unconferences and teacher-led guerilla PD events happening around the world).

One of the ways that teachers can take back control of the narrative in education is to take the lead in improving the profession. Unions should be at the very front of this effort, but teachers everywhere should be organizing to form communities, improve their craft, and have a ton of fun doing it. Lisa echoes what I hear from so many educators who pursue this form of professional development: “Quite simply, TMC12 was the most rich professional development experience I have ever taken part in.”

Lisa is collecting posts and reflections from throughout the conference on her blog, so if you are a math teacher, be sure to check them out. Hats off to the #TMC12 crew, and have a terrific rest of the summer as you polish those new ideas into new lessons for the Fall.

For regular updates, follow me on Twitter at @bjfr and for my papers, presentations and so forth, visit EdTechResearcher.

PS. Shortly after I suggested that the Math Blogotwittosphere was the best of said spheres, my history teacher colleague Angela Cunningham tweeted that she was taking some pages out of the math playbook and directing her #apuschat to focus more on specific, shared problems. So, it’s game on people. We’re even learning ACROSS disciplines here...

PPS. There is an interesting conversation to be had about the pros and cons of the more structured Math Camp model versus the EdCamp unconference model. Discuss.

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