Last year I joined twitter after following a conference hashtag. It was then that a whole world of professional learning opportunity opened up to me. I was listening to an interview that someone shared on my twitter feed, and that interview was about EdCamps and how they are such powerful forms of professional development, where they are created by teachers for teachers. Hearing Kristen Swanson talk about edcamp and how impactful they are on our own learning inspired me to initiate
On September 20 2014, EdCampToronto happened at Seneca College’s Newnham campus. Approximately 130 teachers, administrators, parents and students showed up on a Saturday morning from K12 & HigherEd ready to learn, collaborate, change and share the future of education.
I am very excited to attend HigherEd Camp soon in Toronto at Sheridan College on April 25 to do the same, learn, share and connect with educators face to face. Edcamps are a great way to meet people and connect. They are also great ways for educators to not teach in isolation. They provide motivation, and inspiration but the most important thing that I really appreciate from Edcamps are that teachers get to control and lead their own professional development. With EdCamps, professional development is not prescribed, rather it is tailored to the needs of the teachers in attendance. Teachers can takeaway and give to edcamps what they please based on their own interests and learning needs in and out of the classroom setting.
EdCamps are not the only way teachers can lead with own professional development, here are several ways all educators can use to tailor their professional development to their specific interests and needs:
Perhaps this is the most known form of professional development for educators. Twitter has the power to unleash resources, collaboration and learning on a global level. Whether it’s through chat participation, content and resource sharing, or blog writing, educators can leverage the power of twitter by building their own Professional Learning Network. Building one’s PLN involves connecting with other educators, sharing resources, information or ideas and building relationships. With Twitter it can start off feeling like a Professional Learning Network, but don’t be surprised if it turns into a Personal Learning Network. This is due to the fact that the relationships will be tailored to all your interest not just as a teacher, but also as a person. Your connections will ultimately be representative of your passions and your interests.
Most educators after becoming connected on twitter are inspired to start blogging. The reason is because there are lots of resources, information, and ideas to take away, and blogging often helps with reflecting on these ideas. Blogging is also a way to share your own work, strategies, what works and doesn’t work in the classroom with other educators. For me, the professional aspect of blogging is the reflective element. Blogging helps inform our pedagogical strategies and is a great meta-cognitive tool to analyze our learning & its application in the context of our own world.
Becoming connected also gives us access to lots of information through GHO and live webinars. Some webinars involve participants and others have a specific speaker. When engaging with GHO/webinars, there’s usually an opportunity through the chosen platform to engage with the host and attendees. In this way, learning happens through engagement and connections. Many educators also live-tweet a GHO/webinar and share what they’re learning with their PLN. This helps pass on the knowledge but also start new conversations and build new connections.
What is one way you lead your own professional development?