In a new approach to professional development, teachers are learning at an UnConference. About 150 teachers from McPherson Unified School District 418 gathered to collaborate and learn from each other in small groups. They cycled through the groups that met their interests and needs, learning to implement new techniques in the classroom or how to use new technology
“We have about 33 discussions planned for Friday — ranging from technology, flexible seating, social skills or working with parents — just a wide range of topics,” said UnConference planning team member Carmen Zeisler, a fourth and fifth grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary School. “We want to be active participants in staff development, not just “sit and get” so we want to be the opposite of those conferences and really take ownership of our professional development for the day. We’re thankful that the principals let us take over their day. They normally have this day with their staff, so they’re giving up several hours for this and I’m glad they asked us to plan this event.”
“Hopefully, teachers will grasp something and it will translate into what happens in the classroom because it sparks new ideas and collaboration,” Zeisler explained. “Between the four elementary schools, we rarely get together, so this provides an opportunity for teachers of similar grade levels to learn from each other.”
Roosevelt Elementary School held a smaller, similar event last spring, promoting teacher collaboration in discussion groups. The event was a success, and other schools joined together to have the event cover a wider group.