Sunday, May 5, 2013

Learning, Leading, and Connecting

To think that an educator can maintain a professional outlook by attending 2-3 professional development workshops a year is almost laughable. To keep up with new learning, you really need to be plugged in to an ongoing source of professional discourse and resource sharing. It  needs to happen regularly, at least several times a week. Professional development should provide educators the opportunities to Learn, Lead, and Connect.

Ideas for Learning
The first idea is learning by doing. We all learn better when learning is part of doing something we find really interesting.
The second idea is learning can be uncomfortable. We learn and work best if we enjoy what we are doing. But fun doesn’t always mean “easy.” The best fun is often difficult work . If you aren't uncomfortable, you aren't learning.

The third idea is learning to learn. You can't expect to rely on someone else for learning everything. You have to take charge of your own learning.
The fourth idea is taking the time to learn. You must learn to manage time for yourself.  Choose a time in the day when you can schedule time for yourself to drop everything else and spend time learning something new.

The fifth idea is embracing failure. Every difficulty we run into is an opportunity to learn. The best lesson we can give our learners is to let them see us struggle to learn.

Ideas for Leading
When you learn something new, pay it forward. Share new ideas and resources with your colleagues.

Some ways educators can lead:
  • Create a blog and share your ideas with the world.
  • Present at conferences
  • Invite your colleagues to observe a lesson you are teaching
  • Host a teachmeet
  • Share ideas on social media networks
  • Start a book study
  • Lead a webinar
  • Share an idea at a staff meeting

Ideas for Connecting
Connecting has never been easier. With the internet, it is now easier than ever to connect with others and learn from your peers locally and around the world. Learning  is ongoing. It can be done anytime and anywhere.

Some ways educators can connect:
  • Skype or Skype in the Classroom
  • Twitter chats
  • Facebook posts and conversations
  • Connect globally with the Partners in Learning Network
  • Face to face meetings
  • Conferences
  • Blogs and wikis
  • Chat rooms
  • Webinars

In todays society, information is bountiful. Learning is literally at ones fingertips. Educators have more access to the latest research, learning activity ideas, and resources from not only the educator down the hall, but from the educator across the world. Since our world is ever changing, the ways in which we approach professional development should also change. Hail to the school districts opening the doors to global networks such as Twitter and Facebook and even recognizing educators who learn in untraditional pd environments.  Whether one is learning via a Twitter chat, webinar, or in a face to face class, shouldn't the focus be on the learning that is occurring rather than the seat time as credits for continuing education? 

As an educator, I learn more each day from the educators that I'm connected to via Twitter, global Facebook groups, and the Partners in Learning network than anywhere else. While I have sat in many traditional professional development workshops and gained many valuable insights from them that I have changed my way of thinking about teaching and learning, I still hold on to the value that global networks provide me. I need a place to ask for help, explore opportunities for discussing latest research and trends, and a place to just chat with educators that are experiencing some of the same issues that I face each and every day in education.  For me, professional development is ongoing. It's the opportunities for just in time learning that challenge me to be a better educator, learner, and leader.

Want to get started using social media for professional development? I have compiled this list of influential educators to follow on Twitter.

For ways to connect to educators from around the world, join the Partners in Learning Network.