The Changing Format of Professional Development
I admit it. I’m a lax blogger. The format doesn’t come easily to me. I’m an academic writer, by trade, and I can write you a proposal for anything. I know my eduspeak and lingo. But blogging still feels foreign. I love reading other educator’s blogs, and look forward to new post from folks whom I follow on Twitter. But I think blogging still feels too personal, too ripe for judgement; even though you’ve all been so kind. So I’m attempting a monthly installment, a reflection of the weeks gone by. It’s my commitment to professional development.
This month I had the absolute pleasure of presenting at ECOO. I’m always excited to attend conferences, and this one had been on my list for a number of years. Although my audience was small, the conversations and ideas were important to share. I spoke about using the Virtual Learning Environment (D2L/Brightspace) to support identified learners. Supporting identified learners is my passion, and I embrace the use of technology to support these students.
My current system position allows me to support students with assistive technology in secondary schools. This month, I also focussed on teachers. Specifically, the fabulous classroom teachers that work with these kids everyday. I’ve read numerous great blogs about peer-to-peer professional development this month. They have resonated with me, strongly. I have had many conversations with classroom teachers, and system leaders, and a common refrain is “I want to learn from another teacher.” When we see something awesome happening down the hall, or online, we want to look, talk and share.
You can present ideas to educators, but having educators select the ideas THEY wish to learn about, well that’s true professional development. It’s organic, it comes from a desire within to learn, to grow, become successful at something new. And the format of this new, personal PD is not necessarily a day long staff meeting. It’s a Twitter chat, an EdCamp, a blog post or conversation happening after the bell.
The experience I’ve gained this month about developing teachers’ comfort with assistive technology, is simple. Accept and respect where they are, but ask them: Where do you want to go? How can I get you there? And most importantly: let me help you. Building trust as a system leader is crucial. By allowing me into their classrooms, teachers are opening themselves up to me. It’s my responsibility to ensure they don’t regret it, and my mission to support them on their journey.
So thank you to the many teachers who allowed me into their classrooms this month. Your commitment to supporting your students, and to expanding your craft is admirable. It’s been a pleasure. Now share what you learned.