This past week I had one of those amazing outlook-changing experiences. I spent the day with some influential people in education, along with other professionals in the fields of marketing and public relations, to discuss teacher narratives; stories and experiences being discussed by teachers about their day-to-day lives as educators. From an immense amount of research and data, ten common narratives surfaced. I empathized with all, but truly connected with a few; one being the inspiration for this post, teachers as learners.
The fact of the matter is, when educators are participating in professional development, or professional learning, provided by schools or district, it is not always the most relevant in that moment or helpful to the educator. This post is not about bashing district-provided PD, as I’ve received very beneficial information in those settings. This post is about educators feeling empowered to go out and get what they need to make the most of their time and resources. With experience and research, I’ve found two ways to do just that.
In the past, I’ve written about using Twitter as a professional tool, and my views have not changed. In fact, Twitter has increasingly become my go-to when I have a question or need advice about my classroom, instruction, or the profession as a whole. With a little upfront work spending time building a network of teachers (start by looking at #WaTeachLead and #ECET2 to find high-quality and helpful teacher leaders), you will have an incredibly reliable professional learning tool literally at your fingertips. My favorite way to engage in professional learning on Twitter is to participate in Twitter chats. You can often find Twitter chats just by searching your specific interest areas, grade level, or state. Here’s a list of hashtags to follow by groups that often host Twitter chats:
#EdTechChat (Educational Technology)
#EDchat (General Education)
#NTchat (New Teachers)
#PTchat (Parents & Teachers)
#ECET2 (Elevating & Celebrating Effective Teachers & Teaching)
#WATeachLead (Variety of General Ed. Topics)
I use Teaching Channel. I love Teaching Channel. But I thought I’d let my dear friend and colleague, Lisa Hollenbach, tell you about how Teaching Channel can transform your idea of professional learning. Lisa has been an independent consultant and presenter with Teaching Channel, specifically with regard to the Literacy Design Collaborative. Take it away Lisa:
Teaching Channel is an essential resource for teachers who want to take charge of their own professional learning. Teaching Channel revolutionizes the way teachers connect and learn, creating a window into the practice of effective teachers and teaching that is available 24/7 and 365. Videos showcased on Teaching Channel range from K-12 across all disciplines and are tagged by grade-level, subject area, and, in many cases, by Common Core standard. Something that is really great about Teaching Channel is the social nature of the site. It allows for connection and collaboration in a way that, in my experience, no other teacher resource does. Not only can Teaching Channel offer a way to learn innovative strategies that can immediately be put into classroom practice, it can also open up a completely new avenue for building a strong and supportive Professional Learning Network.
I personally can vouch for the convenience and helpfulness of something like Teaching Channel. Remember my post on “My Favorite No?” That was all Teaching Channel. This is the most effective on the spot professional development out there. Don’t we teach our students that when they need the answer to something, go find it? This is a prime example of just that.
I’ve realized that there are some aspects of our profession that we have very little power over, but professional learning doesn’t have to be one of them. If you need something, go get it. If you need relevant, applicable in the moment professional guidance, here’s a place to start.
Find Lisa Hollenbach on Twitter @lisa_hollenbach and her blog http://www.live2learn2teach2lead.blogspot.com/