Today I participated in my first Ed Camp. My group (of about 15-20 of my peers) discussed accommodation in the elementary school classroom. We also talked about whether or not discomfort can be beneficial. In the informal setting, we talked about different scenarios in our own lives in which we felt that accommodation was beneficial or detrimental to our learning. It became clear that all of us had different opinions based on our unique experiences. Some people in the group felt uncomfortable with the culture of “excessive accommodation” that is prevalent in many classrooms in 2019. These members of the group felt that some discomfort (whether that is speaking in front of a group, using media that they are not familiar with, etc.) can be beneficial to student learning. In some cases, students need a push to achieve their potential. Other members of our group argued, however, that pushing certain kids can result in them being turned off from learning and feeling psychologically unsafe. We all agree, for the most part, that knowing your students is of the utmost importance. Students all have different needs and therefore teachers may need to use different strategies in order to help each individual student.
Using an Ed Camp was helpful to work through this challenging question. All of us were able to discuss the issue in a non-hierarchical way. Nobody was leading the discussion, and nobody was an expert on the issue. It was an egalitarian way to start respectful discourse.