Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Time for Personalized PD is Now

Have you noticed that the world around us is evolving and advancing at an extremely rapid pace? Take a look at the MIT Technology Review top 10 breakthrough technologies over the past years. Yep, “Robots That Teach Each Other” caught my eye too! History supports that school systems are not keeping up with this pace. It can become overwhelming to try. Integrating technology effectively and in innovative ways will certainly help but, I don’t believe we necessarily should have to keep pace with the development of the world around us. Our focus must remain on nurturing learning. If we are creating opportunities and environments for our students that allow them to thrive in this rapidly advancing society when they graduate, we are serving them well. The term “future ready” sticks out.

The new 2016 ISTE Student Standards highlight key skills needed by students to be prepared for the future. What I also believe we need to do is be willing to take risks, be willing to step out of our comfort zone and be willing to accelerate our own learning. I hear it over and over again: to transform student learning experiences we must open up to student voice and allow for student choice. Shouldn’t the same hold true for educators? To transform teaching experiences, we must make room for teacher voice and teacher choice in professional learning. Mandated professional development sessions are often not well received for missing this aspect. To truly move forward, one must personalize and drive their own PD. Doing so can also offer another challenge: a sea of choice. It may even become easy to drown in this sea of choice. A recent blog post by Lisa Westman provided the following stats:
  • 353 - number of weekly education Twitter chats
  • 2174 - number of EdTech Products available for educators (most with PD/training options)
  • 4,050,0000 - number of Google Search results for "Instructional Strategies"
  • Too many to count - number of EdCamps, Voxer Chats, Pinterest boards, books, blogs, podcasts, YouTube tutorials, etc.
Where does one turn to narrow their focus? For me, Twitter is the one stop shop for 24/7 access to personalized PD needs. Twitter has led me to forward thinking educators, authentic projects, blogs and chats that push my thinking and allow me to discover new resources and ideas.

Here is a list of my favorite PD resources that I discovered (many through Twitter):

While the above list is full of high-quality, powerful, on-demand, personalized PD, it is difficult for them to pack the same punch as an in-person learning community that connects throughout the school year and beyond. This community exists with Technology Integrators Forum. TIF is also the life jacket that can help keep one afloat in a sea of choice. Some of the best content is curated and shared by members of the group.

If you are an educator looking to share your voice and be offered an opportunity for personal choice, TIF is for you. You also will take risks, engage in quality discussion, accelerate learning, and even get time and space to explore new ideas and tools. A form is already circulating seeking teacher voice! Let yours be heard. Take a break from mandated PD and personalize your PD with TIF. We would be thrilled for you to jump into a sea of learning and join our growing community of passionate educators looking to grow professionally.

However you choose to personalize your PD this school year, I hope that you follow your passion, learn something new and pass it on to those students who will soon be entering that rapidly advancing society. If we take this approach, we are on the path to preparing our students to stay afloat and even get ahead in a world where "robots that teach each other" is a norm. 

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