I had the opportunity, as many teachers do, to participate in some professional development activities throughout June. Each opportunity was unique and many were FREE, if you can get there. One opportunity took me across the country and was well worth the trip.
June 25 - 26 I participated in CS50 Bootcamp held at Microsoft Corporation in Redmond, WA.
An opportunity put together between David J. Malan's team at Harvard University and Natasha Chornesky's team at Microsoft. In the two-day event I sat through an exemplar lecture, participated in a discussion, worked in a team to create a lesson, "surprise" taught a lesson, debriefed the lesson taught, participated in a "small-group" lecture, worked alongside other teachers, and learned about tools available to my students now as well as in the future. Oh, yeah, that was the first day aka Day 0. The next day we learned the philosophy for course grading, practiced grading, discussed giving students feedback and then had the layout of the course explained to us as educators.
With all this learning the entire time we were having fun, interacting, and eating. I got to wear two hats: student and teacher.
Why this type of PD is important
Lecture, teachers need to be reminded what it's like to be a student, it makes them better teachers.
Discussion allows teachers (and students) the opportunity to process what they know and learned.
Team planning provides an opportunity for teachers to get new ideas and develop a plan that may look different from their usual plan.
Execution of the plan, even in a surprise way, allowed teachers to quickly gain insight and adjust parts of the plan that worked and didn't.
Debrief allows for teachers to reflect on what went right and what needs adjusting.
Small-group allowed us, as students, to work at our own pace and get help when needed quickly.
Food and fun! What's important about the food in PD is that we didn't have to worry about it, we could focus on what we were there to accomplish, not where to go and what to order.
Regarding fun, it was good for us to have fun! We were able to see value in providing fun in our classrooms to keep students interested and engaged.
The next day was a lot more about pedagogy and assessment, both very important in PD. Understanding why the lessons are structured the way they are, how you can supplement materials to make them your own, and how to give valuable feedback to students is critical when designing a new program for students.
I went into the bootcamp thinking they are going to give me a set of tasks that I will need to do well on in a short period of time. It was that, but so much more, and I wasn't alone. Bootcamp, as the name entails requires you to go in prepared. You have to be prepared to handle the multitude of demands that will be placed on you in a short period of time and you will leave with a new outlook and be conditioned to take on new and different tasks. Bootcamp doesn't mean the hard part is over, it means you are tasked to maintain the spirit brought to you through bootcamp. But you have to keep working. It also doesn't mean the work is done for you but a spirit to encourage you to keep working is ignited.
CS50 Bootcamp challenged participants to bring into their schools a well-thought out curriculum that will challenge their students.
I went in to CS50 bootcamp feeling overwhelmed. I felt like there was no way I belonged in a level 0 Harvard course, even though I have a Master's degree from an accredited university. I left bootcamp with a new spirit, support, and a community of educators.
I was reminded I was not alone, and all educators across the country are experiencing similar hurdles to preparing their students for the world.
Look into taking CS50x via edx.org.