Pop-Up PD

Weekly 15 minute sessions based on topics nominated by teachers, based on the un-conference model made popular by #EdCamp.

Photo of Robert Zeitlin
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The idea for "Pop-Up PD" began over the summer, when I became active on Twitter and met lots of educators, administrators, and parents who share my interest in increasing community and parent involvement in schools.

I met some of these people face-to-face in July at a one-day "un-conference" called #EdCampLdr and was later invited to help moderate a Twitter chat called #PTchat, which focuses on issues of parental and community engagement in education. Then, I was honored to participate in #ParentCampUSA, a ground­breaking conference held at the Department of Education in Washington DC on 10/26/15, promoting the value of increasing the communication and collaboration between home and school.

Beginning this school year, I began to offer "Pop-Up PD's" on Monday afternoons in my office after dismissal. From 3:30-3:45 p.m. on any given Monday, we can talk about topics like #ParentCamp, Restorative Practices, mindfulness, Twitter, Leader in Me, etc. While the un-conference model made popular by #EdCamp relies wholly on participants' ideas for topics, I began the Pop-Up PD's with a scheduled list of topics. Slowly, I am handing over control to the group to come up with their own ideas.

The goal is to keep things brief and discussion-based (rather than lecture), to provide a taste of a specific topic and some resources for participants to check out on their own. I also want to tap experts I know in specific areas (mindfulness for teachers, yoga in the classroom) to Skype in for a part of upcoming sessions.

UPDATE 1/13/16:

As I commented below, the response from teachers and staff has been enthusiastic but we have struggled with the challenge of moving from a semi-structured presentation series (where I set the topics) to a participant-driven learning opportunity.

My next goal is to help teachers build the confidence to use their voices to lead their own learning process. Results will be teachers offering suggestions for Pop-Up PD topics and teachers stepping up to lead sessions. To accomplish this goal, I am returning to the empathic interviewing phase to find out what teachers want to develop within their own capacity. I am going to conduct several individual interviews with staff members who have expressed an interest but haven't attended any sessions. My central questions will be, "what is interesting about the Pop-Up PD idea?"

I will also conduct a group interview with the core group of regular attendees to find out what they want a learning opportunity like Pop-Up PD to do for them.

Shout out to Andy Ng at Google for helping me put my design thinking hat back on. I welcome any other suggestions!

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Photo of Robert Zeitlin

I am honored to have the endorsement of seasoned educators like Angelo Truglio and Oliver Schinkten , two outstanding design thinkers who are fierce advocates for children and *true* learning.

Photo of Angelo Truglio

This is a timely must-do idea - an essential component to the vision of  reaching every learner. Onward Robert! 

Photo of Oliver Schinkten

I love this!  I think that you are exactly right!  Professional development in education needs to change and this plan empowers educators, and everyone passionate about education, that opportunity.  I believe that this model flips PD from a boring obligation which people dread, into an inspiring opportunity which people are excited about.  LOVE IT!

Photo of Robert Zeitlin

Thanks Holly Cohen ! Yes, I believe that #EdCamp is a great application of the Open Space concept. Any method that gives teachers a space to exercise their voice has the potential to enhance student outcomes. Also check out my friend Matthew Drewette-Card 's concept #EdCamp4AllPD for the application of an Open Space idea to all learning in a district.

Photo of Holly Cohen

Great idea Robert! Check out the activity open space.  It is very similar.  Russ and I use it in our course.  It offers an immediate platform to group people together who can respond to questions and concerns.  Keep on thinking out of the box and getting out the word.  Holly

Photo of Michael Schurr

Hi Robert,

Love your idea. In fact, we have very similar ideas on the guild right now! Want to mash them up? Email me at michael@teachersguild.org and let's do this!  



Photo of Robert Zeitlin

Done and done. Thanks for reaching out, Michael.

Photo of Chris Good

Robert, this is a great way to make PD more approachable and digestible, I love that it is both Frequent (every Monday afternoon) and discussion based (not lecture)

Have you had any luck moving those discussions into actions? I wonder what would happen if one Monday per month were devoted to implementing or testing an idea (maybe role playing it out among the teachers - or actually trying something new in a classroom)?

Then bringing it back to the group the following week to debrief and improve upon it?

Photo of Robert Zeitlin

That's a great enhancement Chris. In the short window of 15 minutes (sometimes we stay longer but I don't want participants to feel obliged), it's a challenge to share an experience. So I love the role play idea. Thanks!

Photo of Jessica Lura

This is a great combination of edcamp/ unconference with day-to-dayness. Do many teachers attend? 

Photo of Robert Zeitlin

Thanks Jessica. Attendance has varied. Teachers are still focused on the trauma or potential trauma that's in their face. Fear motivates. So when we made a special schedule change to talk about Parent-Teacher Conferences the Monday before report cards, several new teachers showed up with pen and paper, desperate for insights. On the other hand, mindfulness was well-attended and two teachers have already started using some techniques. The real test for the concept will be when participants grasp the ground-up approach and start to bring up topics. Introducing ideas that resist top-down authority like Twitter and attending their own #EdCamp will help.