Personalized Professional Development

When I think of how I can make our school ‘bold’, I want to be able to transform something that is already in place, or introduce something we need.

FACT: We need Professional Development.  FACT: We have no money for it.

So, I need to think big, bold, and out-of-the-box.  Oh, and FREE.

As a result, I’ve come up with a four-step Personalized Professional Development Plan.  It’s free, it’s researched-based, and can be intimately customizable.  It’s what I use for myself, and I call it PPD.  Personalized Professional Development.  PD on steroids, because it includes that follow-up element that makes change of any kind stick.

The steps include:

1. TWITTER.  The ultimate social media that connects like-minded people from all over the world.  Everyone needs to join – as a professional – and start working to develop a Personal Learning Network.  Lurk around some hashtags in your area of teaching.  Follow some people whose tweets you find inspirational, motivational, interesting, or that you just agree with.  These people are the ones who will make up your PLN.  Then start tweeting, retweeting, and connecting with people from all over.  There are millions of teachers just like you!

2. CURATION.  After clicking on all those links that people pass along in twitter, your ‘favorites’ stream gets way too long.  You need a way to organize all those tidbits you saved for future reference.  There are many sites to use.  I would suggest LiveBinders for people new to technology, as they are organized like an actual binder.  There is also ScoopIt! Diigo, Symbaloo, and many others.  I use LiveBinders for topics I would share with others, or that I would definitely want to be able to find at a later date.  Symbaloo is my homepage, as it has all my favorites, my ‘bookmarks’ laid out with their logo in a nice, orderly, Scrabble board-like fashion.  ScoopIt! is used for articles I come across on topics I’m interested in.  Older copies will be relegated to the end of the page where no one goes, however, so some get cross-saved in a LiveBinder.

3.  BLOGGING.  Once their pet topics have been fleshed out with resources, it’s time to start reflecting on these ideas.  To make reflections relevant, they need an audience, or even the potential of one.  Maintaining a blog drives a person to analyze, evaluate, and produce something which can be shared with others.  It’s pretty exciting to have people from around the country (or world!) read and comment on your work, you ideas.

4.  ATTENDING AN EDCAMP.  This may only be possible in for people near a large, urban area which would hold an EdCamp, but truly the pièce de résistance of the whole PPD concept. One of the best experiences I’ve had in the last year (even counting my canoeing vacation!) was attending EdCamp St. Louis, and surrounding myself with energetic, forward-thinking educators.  Nothing energizes like real conversations about a topic in which we are truly invested.

Another hope is that once teachers start to see how an authentic means of educating oneself can be almost addictive, they will start to change how they teach.  Assignments will become individualized and authentic, and students will begin to really build their capacities as life-long learners.

What do you think?  What are the flaws?  What am I missing?  Please share!

5 comments on “Personalized Professional Development

  1. matt sutton says:

    Twitter is the ultimate 10-15 minute PD for me. In fact, one of the easiest aspects of it is the ability to automatically email other staff members with the links. The next step is for them to look at the links I might send.

    Nice Post
    Matt

  2. matt sutton says:

    Reblogged this on Digital: Divide and Conquer and commented:
    Personalizing (y)our Professional Development. Novel idea, tough concept. But there are ways to succeed at it. These are just a few tips.

  3. John says:

    We have a FB page that has 9000+ band directors on it developed by Brian Wis in St. Charles. IT IS THE BEST SOURCE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT FOR ME. I wish we could get PD with use of this site. There is so much collaboration on the site, file repository, repertoire list and advice that will last a life time. The site is called BAND DIRECTORS GROUP (yes, original for us artsy type.)

  4. [...] had been thinking of the best way to approach this topic when I happened to run across a blog post by Matthew Weld where he wrote about four ways teachers could increase their own personal professional development. [...]

  5. matthewweld says:

    The idea that jumps out at me out of all the feedback I’ve received on this idea is that people like to be in charge of their own PD. We find the most meaning in what’s important to us. If we could just extend this to the classroom so that everyone’s learning is focused around what they are intimately interested in. And this collaboration with people I don’t even really know (like John and Matt here) is what makes all this worthwhile. There’s something big trying to come to the surface of my creativity on this topic, and I’ll be interested to see how it fleshes out. Stay tuned!

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