Following up from the honor of being selected in Huffington Posts Top 12 Global Education Blogs of 2014/2015 I have been chosen again in this amazing group and for 2016/2017 will be contributing to Huffington Post’s Education blog once a month. This month we look at the following highly controversial topic “If you were calling the shots how would you change ongoing professional development for teachers in your community?” – here is my response:
4 ways to improve teacher professional learning
In the fast-paced, ever-changing world that we live in, Teacher Learning Never Stops. As soon as a new skill or tool is mastered and implemented a new piece of learning is available. As teachers, we are also learners, and for a lot of us, we control our own learning in a variety of ways. If I was calling the shots, this is how I would change professional development for teachers in my community:
- Encourage Social Media Use for anytime, anywhere learning
I am a social media addict (in a good way). I am addicted to Twitter to extend my practice, learn from others and grow as an educator. It is my go-to source for all learning and I can’t talk about it enough. It allows me to access what I want when I want. I can ask a question and within minutes get responses from my PLN (Professional Learning Network) from every corner of the globe. I would encourage people to connect, explore, learn from like-minded people and embrace the changing nature of technology. Having an established online learning network is powerful and I want to share that with others.
- Establish a Coaching Pedagogy
Coaching as a pedagogy or thought process changes the way people look at learning. Coaching encourages people to support, guide and mentor. In a coaching model, you become responsible for your own learning and this allows you to take the first step to move forward with the support of those around you. You are never left on your own but you are expected to take some steps to do things on your own, increase your skill set and push yourself to be better. This mindset is easy to establish in a warm, caring and open school setting and would be one of the first things I would implement to start the positive teacher learning process.
Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/364650901052573428/
- Establish a PLN (or PLF – Professional Learning Family)
A huge step in creating a personalized learning environment for teachers is to have them create an establish a PLN through any social media they perceive best. I always encourage Twitter as it is busting at the seams with educators wanting to connect, share and learn from one another. The best part is that it is mostly just the positive people online, so negativity is very rare (unlike most staff rooms in schools). PLN’s are amazing in EVERY way – they allow you to push boundaries & seek learning never thought possible. I have made so many contacts through my PLN and created a network of people who are like-minded and love to learn and share. These connections open up opportunities for my colleagues, students and the wider school community – it is exciting to see the spiral. PLN’s help us engage our student’s in the Global Classroom. To get started on Twitter follow my 10 steps by clicking here.
- Make Learning Fun and Personalized (and provide TIME)
This to me makes any learning sustainable. Just like our classrooms with students, learning experiences for teachers need to be fun, engaging and personalized to suit their needs and expectations. I survey people, assign buddies and mentors, provide TIME for them to learn what they need to learn and not always dictate what learning will happen. It is crucial for organizations to have strategic goals and lead professional development related to those, however, teachers need the freedom to learn what is important to them as well and schools need to provide time, money and resources to make this a priority.
Upskilling to meet the constant change in technology is crucial to the success of our education systems around the world. Student’s know more than we know! Don’t let this scare you! Embrace it, take it as a challenge, allow them to empower you and get them to teach you. Student agency is an important element to any professional learning program. Never be afraid to say “I don’t know” – that is where true learning begins.