If you read my Friday blog post, This Week in Ontario Edublogs, I hope that you were enticed to read Beth Lyon’s post “A New Year. A New Word” and EduGal’s post “SIMPLIFYING ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION WITH GOOGLE ASSIGNMENTS – E033” because I’m going to reference both. While at it, take a good look at all seven of the blog posts referenced in mind because they’re all outstanding examples of sharing their learning with others.
What got me to write this post was a line in Beth’s blog post…
I also want to nourish my professional learning and participate in opportunities that intrigue and interest me.
That line really resonated with me and got me thinking of all the professional learning opportunities that I’ve been involved with. I’ve had professional learning done to me, I’ve helped set the table to deliver professional learning to others, and I continue to pursue professional learning on my own.
I think many people think of conferences when they think of professional learning opportunities. It’s natural but I think you need to expand your thoughts, particularly these days. Obviously, we’re not going to be getting together for the big learning events for a while now. It’s interesting to see the organizations that claim to be “pivoting” to online equivalents, keeping the same format, and avoiding some of the costs. Personally, I’m not a fan of that approach; I hate sitting in the audience listening to a talking head and I find it even worse when that talking head is in a window on my screen!
There should be and absolutely can be better alternatives.
As I think about this, I think of the first teacher-librarian that I worked with when I got my first teaching gig. I’ll admit the concept was foreign to me. My experience with librarians had been the shushing type who were perched on a chair near the exit of the library so that you couldn’t steal their prized assets. This gentleman was a valued researcher for staff. Regularly, there would be photocopies or newspaper clippings about computer science related pieces in my mailbox. Picture that and you’ll clearly see that I’m dating myself. But it was my first sense that someone else cared that I was learning and it made the trite phrase “life long learner” come into importance.
Over my teaching career, there was so much learning to be done. Technology came hard and fast and I needed to be on top of things. That most certainly kept me busy doing learning for myself to try and stay on top of things. I’d by lying if I said that I did a good job of it but I’ve always done the best that I could.
Learning can become addictive. There’s no two ways about it. It remains that way today for me. If you follow me on social media, you’ll know that there’s a flurry of activity coming from me at 5am. It’s the time of day that I can generally devote to myself. If you were to peek into our rec room, you’d find me with my Chromebook in hand and the morning news on the television. For the most part, my teacher-librarian-equivalent is Flipboard where I follow something like 280 different topics. In the big scheme of things, just the number indicates that I’m falling behind daily! And, like what I learned from my teacher-librarian and social media colleagues, I share what I’m reading in case anyone else cares. The logic is that, if it’s good for me, then it might be good for someone else.
As an aside, I found out that it’s not appreciated by my wife. In a video coffee chat with some dear friends yesterday, she indicated that she didn’t appreciate some of my stuff appearing on her timeline. I guess we should talk about muting me!
Later, in the evenings, I will set aside time to scan the blogging universe and read some of the gems there. Of course, I look largely to Ontario Edubloggers and it helps me curate a nice collection for Wednesdays and Fridays.
Recently, thanks to folks in the ACSE mailing list, I’ve subscribed to the Daily Coding Problem just so that I can still put one or two lines of code together. These days, it’s in Python or SmallBASIC.
As I think about these concepts as I write this, I realize that they’re largely mono-modal. (Is that a word?) That’s where I’m impressed with the work of the EduGals, Rachel Johnson and Katie Attwell. Yes, they blog and they turn their working into words and pictures but their writing lives alongside the podcast that they do on the same topic. It’s there that they can add a little more enthusiasm to the topic they’re currently addressing. I’m now finding that I enjoy both, for slightly different reasons.
So, back to the concept of the conference. It’s a once a year type of event and I know that many teachers get funding to go annually if they’re lucky but more often it’s every other year. By its design, it’s a shot in the arm over the course of a day or three to top you up supposedly. Then, there’s this pivot thing to move it online. If you believe that learning is a community event, then you really need to wonder about the effectiveness. If you believe that learning should be continuous, then you know that the format doesn’t support this. Teachers in Ontario have lived through the current vision of “pivot” and I suspect have concerns about whether this approach will work.
And for the teacher who teaches more than a single subject (and who doesn’t these days), it’s an extra challenge. Teachers have to ask “What subject area gets my attention?|
In Ontario, we’re fortunate to have so many different Subject groups. In my year representing the Educational Computing Organization of Ontario at the Ontario Teachers’ Federation, I put together a Twitter list to follow. It’s a great list to follow as it represents the current messages from each of the groups. But, they’re not the only ones. On Friday, I try my best to look and see who has been active on Thursday and give them a shoutout of Fridays. This past week’s collection can be found here. I find it inspirational to follow the ongoing professional discussion that happens regularly. These folks are my professional conversations these days.
I know that there are probably a million different ways for people to “nourish” their desire to learn as Beth describes it. The above is my game. The final step is to consolidate and that takes the form of blog posts here. I’m not hesitant to share learning or opinions here. I hope that anyone who happens to read finds that it helps. But just as having to teach or present something makes you a little bit more confident in the topic, blogging is what works for me.
I’ll toss it back to you, kind reader. How are you nourishing your own professional learning? Please be kind enough to share below.