Friday, July 20, 2018

Personalizing Professional Development

My district has a one hour early release every Thursday. Once the students leave the staff follows whatever is planned for them. Sometimes it's a staff meeting, sometimes it's a department meeting, sometimes the district administrative team comes and speaks to us, select groups of teacher are pulled out to work with counterparts from around the district and it's also a time when all those "must dos" take place like epi pen training. Last year, our building administration tried to give as many of those minutes to PLC teams so teachers could work on what is important to them. A team of teachers and one building assistant principal outlined what that time could look like and what the expectations would be. Looking back, I think it was as successful as it could be. There turned out to be more of those "must dos" than I think anyone was prepared for and the teams didn't get as much time as we would have liked.

The first Thursday started with me doing a launch event with BreakoutEDU on effective PLCs with the entire staff. I had 16 boxes set up and it was amazing. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. About a third of the way into the school year it was suggested that we do some sort of sharing out so we learn what all the PLCs were working on. We tossed around some ideas for sharing out without giving teachers, "one more thing to do." I suggested that we utilize Flipgrid and just have people share what work has been done. Easy-peasy and it put Flipgrid on the radar of teachers in the building and hopefully gave them ideas on how to use it in their classroom. I created a video using Adobe Spark and another co-worker did one directly on Flipgrid as models.

There was a lot of grumbling and it was viewed as, "one more thing to do." I kept my positive attitude and forged on with my vision.

My co-workers were amazing. This a perfect example of the importance of authentic audiences and  personalized PD. The videos that were produced were astounding. Teachers dove into video creation applications that they had always wanted to explore but never had time to. Every submission put the simple models to shame. The bar got raised every time another video was submitted.

If you have time, I suggest you check out some of the videos. The password is, "Espinosa." The creativity of my co-workers is amazing.

This was probably the most powerful example of why it's important to personalize education, have our students create and have authentic audiences. The teachers were working together, in like minded groups on a topic that were important to them and therefore engagement was increased. They created in a way that interested them and knew their audience.

I don't know what's in store for us during the 18-19SY. I hope that we are given time to work in our PLC teams again and anything that can be sent in an email is saved from a staff meeting to free up more time. I love the idea of teachers being able to learn in ways and from people that work for them. As George Couros wrote in his book, The Innovators Mindset, "What is essential for the success of any professional learning opportunity is to recognize that people need to more from their point A to their point B. Learning doesn't happen by simply distributing information." 

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