Monday, February 21, 2011

Does Professional Development Happen To Us?: Action Steps

(This post is part 3 of 3.)  
Part 1:  Does Professional Development Happen To Us:  January Opportunities
Part 2:  Does Professional Development Happen To Us:  Learning Through Collaboration

Life Long Learning
It's funny how sometimes a collection events or conversations connect quickly and take you to a new place.  A few days after virtually attending Educon and the Reform Symposium the #edchat conversation on Twitter was about "How to promote life long learning in all educators".  The conversation soon turned to the pros and cons of professional development.

In my professional career there has rarely - if ever - been a professional development opportunity in which I haven't walked away with something to improve the work I do with children.  Yes, some have been better than others, but I'm a learner and I enjoy hearing different perspectives.  I'm going to question.  I'm going to search for more information.  I'm going to think about the strengths of what I am hearing, and the drawbacks.  But I'm going to take something away.

The Need for Action
In the course of our #edchat conversation about professional development we talked about redefining professional development and considering professional learning.  I've always felt the biggest problem with professional development is educators let it happen to them.  I think it's important to have a professional learning plan and seek the information needed to grow from a variety of resources.  During the conversation, Steven W. Anderson (@web20classroom) made this comment:

The truth is one size fits all professional development is never going to work for everyone.  We have to make professional development provided part of a bigger plan toward growth and change.  As Pernille reminded us, we are in charge of our own change.  Steven Anderson's comment really made me stop and think.  What action(s) am I taking away from these days of professional learning and collaboration?  

So What's The Action
Build Connections/Relationships:  While I will continue to build relationships and make connections through the learning network I have developed on Twitter (blogs, wikis, etc.), I most need to think about building these same connections and relationships at school.  Our days at school are so busy we don't create the time to talk about what is going on in our classrooms.  Additionally, many of the connections and resources I've discovered on the internet would be helpful for my colleagues at school.  I need to start sharing this with them.  

Collaborate (grow community):  The underlying message I received from EduCon and RSCON11 was the importance of collaboration on many levels.  It was obvious in Elluminate rooms and EduCon conversations how much faster thinking grew and moved toward action through creating shared understandings with others.  

Stay Focused on Bigger Picture:  In times where educators are taking hits from many levels, it is easy to get discouraged.  In a time where we can analyze data down to the miniscule there is the danger of forgetting the global significance of the work we do.   Which leads me to...

It's About the Children:  Any changes I make should make learning better for my students.  You will find my goals for students below.  This Educon Encienda presentation by Karen Szymusiak titled "Where Are the Children?" speaks volumes.  

Make Public (or take down classroom walls):  While I still wrestle with the line between my personal world and my professional one, or if a line can exist at all (see Dr. Alec Couros discussion), I understand the significance of sharing my professional learning journey with others.  I am so thankful to the educators who make their learning and thinking visible for me to consider.  Their willingness to open their classroom doors improves my practice.  

Action Steps for Students
Help All Learners Reach Their Academic Potential:  Dr. Branigan's talk reminded me of the importance of key characteristics for student learners (energy/emotional levels, stamina to a task, visualization, self-talk, and organization/time management).

Follow More / Lead Less:  Though I know our academic goals and path, I could be doing a lot more to help students follow their learning interests and move toward independence by thinking of myself more as a partner in learning.  Additionally noting the interests of students, continuing to allow opportunities for choice, and helping students to set goals and evaluate progress is important.

Give Everyone a Voice:  I think having student blogs has really helped develop student voice in my classroom.  Since we've started blogging it seems more students are being heard and respected for their contributions to our community.  I think it's important to continue this practice.

Build Connections/Relationships:  Through Twitter, online conferences, and other internet professional learning opportunities I've discovered the significance of learning in a more global community.  I want to develop this in my students as well.  I am currently working on a common blog with a local classroom in a neighboring district, and a collaborative learning experience with another local classroom.  I'm hoping as we continue to grow our ability to collaborate in this more global environment students will see the purpose and significance of their learning as we connect conversations.

Collaborate (grow community):  I suppose this is very similar to the above action step.  However, I think learning goes beyond just having a connection.  I want students to learn to collaborate with others within our classroom community, as well as outside of it, to create deeper understandings.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your "tracks" as you journey in your professional learning! I gain so much from your sharing. Karen's words "children as shadows" terrifies me, it reminds me to listen to what really matters, the children! I plan to revisit this post as I explore all the "tracks" you have left for us.