Passionate for Professional Learning

Almost every educator who has a blog and a Twitter account has, at some time, written about why they like Twitter.  More often than not, some of the points that are raised include:

  • making new connections;
  • connecting globally;
  • building or continuing a discussion;
  • staying connected;
  • learn new things;

All of these are powerful reasons why you might want to get and cultivate a Twitter account and create your own learning network.  I think that the very list speaks volumes about the type of educator that is an avid user of the service.

The points above are all functional activities that, when used properly, make for a more well-rounded educator.  These are the folks that have engaging classrooms and students show up anticipating the new and exciting things that will happen each and every day.

But, what of the teacher her/himself?

I checked the history of this blog to see what I might have said about professional learning and found that I had written this.

“Selfishly, I always walk away from leading a Professional Development session with some ideas about how I can go back to what I do and make it better.”

When I think of the Twitter discussions that I either view or participate in daily, I am humbled by the interactions and contributions made by everyone involved.  More often than not, a message spawns further messaging, an email followup, or resource/techniques/new learnings shared.

And, what do you get back for doing this?  What’s the payoff?  Is there a certificate that you can print and put in a portfolio?  Does this bump you up the pay scale?  Does it fit some sort of organizational structure of PD that has been laid on?  Help us, but does it meet some district requirement of “training”?

Of course not.  When you think of institutional professional development, more often that not, there’s a clearly defined structure.  There’s the leader and there are the learners.  The leader decides when and where the event will happen and sometimes orders the food and runs off the handouts.  What you get back when you learn with others using Twitter is the energy and the intellectual buzz that comes from learning something that makes you just a little bit better for the experience. Unlike the structural event, there is no certificate or qualification that you walk away with at the end of the day.

It’s a warm sense that there are great people, learning and sharing great things, and that you’re actually part of it because you want to be.

And, you can’t wait until tomorrow to continue the conversation.

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9 thoughts on “Passionate for Professional Learning

  1. Your post made me think about my own involvement in Twitter and how I got started just a little over three years ago. It easily took me 6 months to start realizing what exactly I had at my fingertips.The free flowing discussions, the support, the give and take and yes on occasion the taffy pull. The community that I have come to know of like-minded individuals as well as truly different thinkers has opened up a world for me that was not part of my thinking. I was nothing but boxes and wires and then I realized there was so much more to it. I can not put a price tag on what my connections have meant to me but I do know that I have no regrets whatsoever. Thanks for the refresher Doug.

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  2. Thanks for the kind comment, Paul. Just think, without these connections, you and I probably would never have met. Now, it’s one of the highlights of attending the ISTE Conference for me. As you say, fond memories. That even includes the rain in Baltimore at Camden Yards!

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  3. The title of your post says it all, Doug. Is there really any difference between our professional learning and the kind of learning in which our students are hopefully engaged? If we, as educators, model passion for our own learning, isn’t that what it should be all about for students? Intrinsic motivation for learning as modelled by our passion for professional learning.

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  4. Wouldn’t it be neat to see what students chose to learn if we supported their learning in the same way we support each others via twitter? Students surprise me on a daily basis (and I don’t even have a class right now) with their creativity, imagination and lack of “thinking in the box”. Where would they take their learning if given the opportunity to break free from the mold of traditional education models? Who knows, maybe exactly where we’ve led them all these years, or maybe in some entirely different direction. 🙂

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  5. That’s a good question, Jaclyn. The counter question to that would be “Why not?” There are curriculum guideline issues to be addressed, to be sure, but within that context, “Why not?”

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