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.
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!