This post was originally posted here: https://www.participate.com/articles/let-s-put-professional-in-professional-learning/30bdcede-a028-4d6d-a7ab-4d7145593217
The last few years have brought an incredible amount of learning opportunities to educators around the globe. This includes opportunities to interact on social media, access open education resources (OER), and tap into the conversations of educators around the globe whatever topic is under study, review or consideration. This proliferation of access to professional learning has helped to revive many teachers that were isolated, lonely or disillusioned. It has created a passionate base of educators that are buoyed by the energy of best practices and innovation.
This era of open learning has sparked incredible new formats for learning like Edcamp, TeachMeet, and more. It has allowed educators to take control of their own learning as opposed to waiting for professional development to be delivered to them. This revolution of learning has reached many places, and though it has many more places to reach before, all kids are benefiting from this new energy, the march to better learning for educational professionals is happening.
This revolution in learning hasn’t always been smooth. It has met the resistance from those that administer traditional structures, routines, and procedures. These voices are can be heard saying that these new models of learning aren’t robust and of high quality. There individuals are often the same ones refusing to give traditional credit (university credit, professional development hours for certification, and hours for local requirements) for these new models even though these are the models are breathing life back into an over-stressed, exhausted, and struggling teaching profession. The pressure to return to “normal” professional development continues for educators. Many educators are complying with their “required” hours and then reaching out to events and opportunities like those described above to truly fill their needs. This is only adding to the exhaustion in the profession.
It is time that we return to true professional learning and not only think about the learning, but think about the professional part. Teachers deserve to be treated as professionals and build professional learning opportunities to meet their needs with little to no pressure from others judging which of the opportunities are appropriate for their growth. Recently, Participate Learning has developed an incredible way for teachers to find and access resources from Twitter chats. This tool allows educators to harvest the best resources in a chat, place them in a useable collection that they can manage from the Participate.com website, and then begin to have conversations with other educators about these resources. Educators building these collections are also taking time to be reflective practitioners and voracious sharers of ideas, resources, and tools. Every piece of this process feels like high-quality professional learning.
Participate Learning is also beginning to encourage teachers to develop a culture of sharing around their best resources. They are partnering with the Office of Education Technology to make sharing easy. Greater details around this opportunity is just around the corner. We know that each time a teacher chooses to share to a marketplace of ideas they are engaging in quality professional learning as they make decisions on the quality, purpose, and application of those resources. All of these professional practices are building the overall quality of the teachers around the country. It is so important that all of us that are innovators in education are advocating for those trying to do professional learning the right way. The other option is that we revert to stale, ineffective professional development because these practices fit the antiquated compliance model that many still push.
Allow folks like Participate Learning to support, guide, and amplify your modern professional learning. Attend events with like-minded educators like Edcamps and other conferences by teachers and for teachers. Lean into new ways to learn that maximize blended learning for adults. All of these opportunities will make professional learning feel both like learning and being treated like a professional.