Things That Suck!

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We’ve run 2 staff meetings this year using an #edcamp format. They were very well-received, productive, successful, and provided instant feedback for staff and/or immediate classroom learning opportunities for kids. We changed things up a bit for our most recent staff meeting, and did “Things That Suck”. Inspired by an edcamp session I did not attend (but piqued my interest by title alone), a tweet from @CurtRees, and this blog post by Bill Selak, I decided to give it a try. The result? Yet another hit spawned from global collaboration and sharing!

This format provided a platform for our staff to have candid conversation in a safe environment around pertinent topics that impact our daily work. We discussed homework, 1:1 student device initiatives, CCSS, Standards Based Grading, merit pay, and tenure. For those new to “Things That Suck”, I believe it can be productive in an environment that is already safe, candid, collaborative, and comfortable, or used to break the ice toward creating an environment with those characteristics. Either way, “Things That Suck” definitely does not, and will make a fine addition to your staff meeting format repertoire.

If you have other staff meeting formats that have been well received, or other ways to make collaborative time productive, I would love to hear about them.

5 comments for “Things That Suck!

  1. April 13, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Hello Sam,

    Thanks for the share and thanks for the link. Although the idea is new to me, there is no doubt the power of the concept comes from teachers having a voice. I also assume it is nice for teachers top realise that not all teachers think the same with the inference being that a principal cannot please all of the people all of the time.

    In the spirit of sharing, I provide below some links from my blog. These link refer to a concept I introduced last year. The concept is “non-commissioned time”. I blogged about it here….

    http://gregmiller68.com/2013/06/09/unstructured-non-commissioned-time-for-teachers/ and there were a number of people from online PLN who offered a number of suggestions.

    When I introduced it to teachers @materdeiwagga (in Australia), I acquired feedback which can be found here…..

    http://gregmiller68.com/2013/08/09/choice-choice-choice-at-a-staff-meeting/

    and here……

    http://gregmiller68.com/2013/09/06/choice-at-a-staff-meeting-teacher-feedback/

    Best Wishes,
    Greg.

    • April 13, 2014 at 11:12 pm

      This is great, Greg! We have a couple teachers providing genius hour type learning opportunities for students. It is going well, and I look forward to it permeating throughout our school. I appreciate the posts and feedback you’ve shared here and you’ve got me already working on how/when to provide this for my staff in the future. Thank you for reading and sharing, Greg!

  2. Jason Gansauer
    April 13, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    Does anyone happen to know the origin of the term “that sucks?”

  3. hoopesnothoops
    April 14, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Sam, Tell me more about the #edcamp format. I will look it up as well. Thanks for your post.

    On Sat, Apr 12, 2014 at 2:21 PM, i teach kids

    • April 19, 2014 at 11:06 am

      Thanks for reading, Kyle! The objective of an edcamp format is to make PD meaningful and immediately applicable for learners (educators and students!). Depending on the collective mindset of the environment (fixed or growth), the shift may or may not feel uncomfortable and risky. Either way, the benefit to kids and your community is worth it. If there’s anything more I can answer or do, please let me know. I have just recently been exposed to this over the past 6 months, and this has unquestionably been the most productive, successful, and impactful period of my career–and I feel it is just beginning! Anything I can do to help others feel this same way and positively impact kids and learning communities, I am happy to!
      P.S. You may have local edcamps to attend physically, edcamps everywhere to attend virtually, and there is a leadership edcamp August 4 in Philadelphia. DM me if you’d like to know or talk more.

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