In the past two weeks, my job has radically changed due to budgetary constraints, and word on the street is that our district needs to cut an additional 7 figures to stay in the black, all the while working to maintain the quality of education provided to students against the backdrop of the State reducing (again!) the General State Aid payment. What stays and what goes?
One of the first things to go when Districts slash budgets is Professional Development – at least out-of-house PD. Teachers won’t be sent to conferences, consultants won’t be brought in. It therefore becomes imperative that we take responsibility for our own continuing education. Not only do the members of a school district have to start becoming the experts whom in turn teach their colleagues, but we must take responsibility at a personal level to educate ourselves. As teachers, we need to look up and out of our classrooms at the bigger world of education and the huge advancements research and technology are making. As administrators, we need to connect with colleagues and brainstorm low-cost ways of advancing and supporting student success in our buildings.
Back in April, I wrote a post about Personalized Professional Development. People are still reading this post more than any others of mine, which leads me to believe educators are really making a connection with the idea. Basically, there are four steps: 1) Twitter which connects people, 2) Content Curation which organizes resources for future reference, 3) Blogging, which allows reflection on what’s been learned, and finally, 4) Attending an EdCamp which connects people in person and when you can finally have those meaningful conversations with a depth of knowledge gained only through learning and reflection.
In the next couple of posts, I’d like to flesh out each of these ideas a bit more, focusing on how we can support teachers and staff as they work toward becoming accountable for their own PD.
The first step is to join Twitter. Everyone who is on there, and who takes advantage of the Professional Learning Networks (PLNs) available with Twitter, feel similarly. @Joe_Mazza blogs :
Together, we need to Tweet It Forward. Help other educators and parents discover this tool. The more excitement we bring to the field regarding it’s use, the more likely district policies will no longer be created to prevent it’s use, but to harness the opportunity for professional sharing. What busy parent wouldn’t want to experience a magazine-like layout of school tweets in realtime? The more people we teach about Twitter, the greater, more influential and well-rounded our shared PLN becomes.
I can attribute all components of my PPD philosophy to Twitter. I learned about the term ‘Content Curation’ and all the ways people can accomplish this from Twitter posts – In fact, I have had Twitter conversations with the developers of @LiveBinders. I started blogging as a professional educator after becoming inspired by some great writers/educators out there (check out my blogroll!). And, yes, someone mentioned that I bring some of my ideas expressed as Tweets to the local EdCamp. I did, and what an experience (blogged about here)
Somehow, I feel like I need to reach out and spread the word about Twitter. I can’t keep all this awesomeness to myself! I can start by offering Twitter workshops at the District or the County level. We have a local University, too, where I can maybe guest lecture to the Education classes.
If any of you have experience or stories on how you have advanced the cause of Twitter as the start of Personal Professional Development, please share!
I think I’ll email the County Superintendent right now…
~For the Kids!