What is Professional Development?
Are those groans that I’m hearing? Does professional development bring a bit of a frown to your face or a sinking feeling in your stomach?
I’ve had the privilege of engaging in powerful professional development (PD) over the course of the last two weeks. I’m going to cite four specific examples of PD that have been powerful for me and then explain the critical attributes that contributed to my learning!
- #TCRWP 90th Saturday Reunion
- #TWT Blog Series on Professional Development
- #G2Great Twitter Chat on Thoughtful Decision-Making
What made these four instances powerful learning experiences?
All of these examples were freely chosen by me. I chose to travel to the #TCRWP 90th Saturday reunion. Once there, I had approximately 150 sessions to choose from – a veritable buffet of choices that was incredibly difficult. (You can read about those sessions here, here, here, here and here.) The #TWT Blog Series could be read in order or as I had time to savor the content. The #G2Great Twitter Chat involved choices about which questions I responded to as well as conversations that were extended. And #TheEdCollabGathering on Saturday offered multiple sessions in four different time frames so I could choose the sessions of greatest interest.
There was no cost for any of these PD offerings. Of course, the #TCRWP 90th Saturday reunion involved travel to New York City – but the PD was a gift from Lucy Calkins and colleagues just as #TheEdCollabGathering was a gift. I attended the Saturday reunions from my living room for several years before live attendance! The #TWT blog series and the #G2Great Chat were free – only required my time! Free is a nice selling point for my frugal mind!
Learning Collaboratively with Others
Whether it was a turn and talk with Tara or Erica, or tweets to attendees or those at home, or even reading and collecting blog posts from others, #TCRWP is ALWAYS about learning collaboratively with others. We kept talking over lunch at the end of the day – not yet ready to end the day. Twitter chats are also always about learning with others. Retweeting, or finding “frame-worthy” tweets, is all about rejoicing in the language precision of friends’ 140 characters that just must be repeated verbatim. And a blog post series allowed me to respond to the #TWT authors and their posts directly or on twitter.
Available 24/7 to Revisit
The learning continues after each of the events above. My notes, multiple blog posts and conversations on Twitter or Voxer are available 24/7 to revisit #TCRWP’s 90th Saturday Reunion. I can continue to revisit the #TWT PD Series and send links to friends for conversations. I can review the #G2Great twitter chat in a column of my Tweetdeck as well as read Amy’s wonderful analysis blog post here. And all of the Hangouts on Air by #TheEdCollabGathering are available for viewing . . . anytime . . . anywhere.
Passionate and Inspiring Presenters
Not only were each of the presenters above passionate and inspiring, but they were also knowledgable and skilled at “pushing” for action. It was never enough to learn because the learning wasn’t the terminal point – that was reserved for the plan for “How are you going to use this?” Masterful, experience, and models of reflective practices . . . EACH.AND.EVERY.ONE!
So a tough question . . .
If those are characteristics that I value in my quest for PD that fuels my heart, soul and mind, how does that match up with PD that I provide?
Learning Collaboratively with Others?
Available 24/7 to Revisit?
Passionate and Inspiring?
Choices are built into the task that teachers are asked to complete. They have to “do” something but they have choices. Free? Yes! Learning collaboratively with other? Yes, with pair-share and productive group work. Available 24/7 to revisit? Yes, thanks to google docs and slides there is always some artifact to leave behind. Passionate? Yes! Inspiring? I hope so!
If nothing else, naming these characteristics that I value will push me to make sure they are included in future PD sessions!
What characteristics do you value in PD?
Thank you, Anna, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Stacey, and Tara. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thank you for this weekly forum!