Unique Professional Development Program Launched

It’s been several years in the making, but I’ve finally finished the process of developing a unique approach to District-wide professional development.  It involves monthly challenges and microcredentials, both with the ultimate goal of enabling people to become a Connected Educator.

Four possible badges to earn

Four possible badges to earn

As I wrote to my District in an email this morning:

Certified Staff, Administrators, and Board Members,
With each new mandate and each new set of standards, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.  Some days I wonder why I’m still in this profession. 
But then I look to my amazing Professional Learning Network (PLN) of educators from around the world (literally) who are all so positive and see the good in what we do, that I’m recharged and remember why I finally chose education after drifting from job to job throughout my twenties.  It’s because we are the backbone of society – without education, a free democracy cannot exist. 
Since I am a ‘Connected Educator,’ I have access to thousands of teachers’ ideas and resources; I can’t imagine going back to working in the dark, by myself.
Some of you are also Connected Educators, but not very many. I would like to see everyone in this district reap the benefits of establishing your own PLN.  The trick is that, just like our students, every teacher has different needs and comes from a different place, so there is no one-size-fits-all model.  I first started thinking about this in 2012, and came up with the term Personalized Professional Development (PPD).  That blog post became one of my most-read entries, and culminated in a presentation at the Midwest Educational Technology Conference on the same topic.  
Just like in biological evolution when a certain characteristic can appear in completely unrelated populations (like fins for swimming), PPD sprang up all around that year – it’s now a ‘thing’, and a Google search brings up millions of entries.  I firmly believe it’s the best way to grow your professional self, and would like to invite you to a special community.
We are looking for 20 people from District 90 to take part in a Pilot of #OFD90Learns.  
#OFD90Learns is a program where you earn microcredentials. There are two paths:  badges and monthly challenges.  You can choose one or both to work on next year.  I think all your questions will be answered here.  
Remember, this is a Pilot Group of no more than 20.  If this sounds like something you would like to be a part of, click here to accept the invitation and register.  If not, the SIP Committee and I are still planning a great lineup of PD for next year’s SIP Days.  Stay tuned.
If, after you read the Program Description, you still have questions, be sure to ask!
I can’t wait to start.  This is gonna be great!
I welcome any feedback!  Thanks, too, to the many people who have already critiqued, written posts about their own experiences, and presented at #METC16 on their PD programs.  I appreciate you all.

Ground Zero: Creating a Tech Integration Program From Scratch

As I sat down today to really think about creating a technology integration program, I was struck by the magnitude of opportunity I have before me.

How often does one have the chance to create a program from the ground up?  How often does one have the ability to create it on your own, since you are the program?  Not often, if ever.

It’s not like I sat down and just put something down.  With the help of my PLN, I’ve been learning about what’s really important in education, how to best teach teachers technology, and how technology can really drive positive change in schools.  So clearly I’ve been pondering this for about the last year.  About three-quarters of last year’s time was taken up with teaching and all that goes with that (’nuff said).  This year, I will be a full time Tech Coach, so I need a structure, a curriculum with standards, from which to work.

To accomplish this, I started with the biggest picture and progressively narrowed the scope.  I looked at my District’s vision and mission statements, and then the same documents from the Technology Department.  With those open in one window, I was able to craft a first draft mission statement for my Program:

To provide District teachers, administration, and staff with the resources, training, and support necessary to integrate technology into the existing curriculum emphasizing 21st century skills and authentic, relevant learning.

 Taking this mission and Danielson’s Instructional Specialist Rubric (which is used by my District for my evaluation), I was then able to create three broad goals for the program:

1.  training – To develop and provide relevant and meaningful training sessions for faculty and staff of District 90 in the areas of iPad use in the classroom, Web 2.0 tools using the PC labs, and District software programs.

2.  resources – To develop and provide relevant and meaningful digital and print resources to help teachers and staff integrate technology tools into their professional lives.

3.  method for data collection & program improvement – To continually collect and review data from teachers and students on the effectiveness of the Program, and to then modify the training and resources to better fit the needs of the teachers and staff as a whole.

I then went on to create timelines, action steps, resources, etc. (but I don’t think you want to see all those).  HOWEVER, I do want feedback on these goals and on my Mission Statement.  What needs to be added/deleted/substituted?

Thanks in advance for your comments!

#METC13 Presentation Slides

Here is the link and QR Code for my SlideRocket presentation, “Personalized Professional Development,” from today’s presentation at the Midwest Education Technology Conference in St. Charles, MO. Thanks to all those who attended!

http://t.co/diuiYUPN

QR code for edcamp site

Here’s the handout that’s on the METC website (has all the links on it) > PerProfDev_Weld

So You’ve Got a PLN – Now What?

In my quest to have everyone personalize their professional development using my 4-step process (Twitter, Curation, Blog, EdCamp) as described here, I’m using the next few posts to really flesh out these steps.  I described the first step, joining Twitter and using it to leverage your PD, in the last post.  The purpose of joining Twitter is to build a global Professional Learning Network, also described by Bill Powers (@MrPowersCMS) in this blog post.

Professional Learning Network

graphic source: http://teachersbox.com/

Although Twitter may limit you to 140 characters, much can be shared and learned in a well-contructed PLN.  Just as in any meaningful relationship, there is give and take; I share what I’ve come across and have found important, and I keep things I find useful that others have shared.  Members of my PLN do the same, and pretty soon, we all have more knowledge, ideas, and a newfound respect for our profession.  Surf your Twitter Home Feed and reply to questions or comment on others’ postings. Take part in hashtag chats that pertain to your interests and watch your resources grow!

In my mind, there are five main ways to maximize the power of your PLN:

1.  Share Ideas & Resources.  My hope for you is that you’re not a lurker.  What’s the point?  Type something!  Share!  I’m sure you’ve written an amazing lesson plan, developed the perfect rubric, or just created a document aligning your current curriculum to the new Common Core.  Be proud and share it!  No one likes to re-invent the alphabet if they don’t have to!

2.  Seek Advice.  Last weekend, a member of my PLN wanted advice on Apple TV vs. the Reflection app.  That was a topic a couple of us had personal knowledge of or resources about.  We shared, and everyone learned something.  Instant gratification.  Awesome.

3. Share Day-to-Day Activities.  Sometimes the most interesting tidbits contributed by members of my PLN include their daily activities.  What did you do during science class today?  How did you resolve a parent issue?  What did the kindergartener say that was just too funny (you know how random they can be)?

4.  Collect Resources.  Much of what is shared by me and members of my PLN on Twitter is assigned a Star and added to my Favorites stream.  Pretty soon, your stream becomes like your email’s Inbox – unregulated, with the earlier entries forgotten.  In my next post, I will share some of the ways I organize all those resources, since CONTENT CURATION is the second step of my plan for Personalized Professional Development.

5.  Connect on a Personal Level.  All work and no play makes for a dull existence.  The ultimate purpose of a PLN is, after all, Professional.  However, just like in a classroom, letting your personality shine through can be a good thing.  Every once in a while, tweet about something funny, something you’re proud of, something meaningful to you.  Who knows, maybe it will earn retweets, follows, and before you know it, you will have sparked a conversation and made a connection with someone across the planet whom you have never met before.

I can honestly state that I am in a better place professionally because of my Professional Learning Network which I have established on Twitter.  I look forward to weekly hashtag chats, I enjoy sharing resources, and as I work through my day, I make mental notes on interesting activities or amusing happenings which can be shared later.  Thanks to all of you already a part of my PLN, and I look forward to expanding it even further and learning even more with my future colleagues.

~Matt

@MatthewWeld