In the last few years, my entire approach to education and learning has undergone a radical transformation. By being a “connected” educator, I have opened myself up to an entirely different world of self-motivated, personalized, asynchronous professional development.
Since becoming the e-Learning Contact (#eLC) for my board, I have had endless opportunities to attend professional development sessions both on an informal and formal level. There is always something to be learned and there is always someone who is open to sharing their resources, time and experiences to guide you. The face-to-face PD sessions are fantastic and some of the best professional development I’ve had has occurred huddled around a laptop in between conference sessions, while waiting for a plane, or stuck in traffic with my colleagues. However, I have had fantastic PD, without having to leave the comfort of my couch!
These virtual professional development opportunities have been varied, rich, and authentic. But the key theme throughout? It has been driven by my learning needs or my passions. These PD sessions didn’t land in my lap, I searched them out and went looking for the opportunities.
Recently, Karen Enders (@Mse112) and I were fortunate enough to attend the first ever #GAFE Student Summit. Based on the model of the educator #gafesummit, it was a fantastic opportunity to experience the #GAFE tools among the students. At the end of the day, I reflected on the difference between the Student Summit and the #GafeSummit I attended in Kitchener-Waterloo( with thanx to @markwcarbone). The format of the day of the day was identical but there was one key difference- the “click and play” that was evident at the student summit.
During the breakout sessions at the educators version of the #gafesummit, the adults in the room diligently followed the instructor at the front of the room and attempted to replicate the skills being demonstrated by the session presenter. The participants helped those beside them that struggled with the new skills and there were pockets of conversations about how the #GAFE could be used in the classroom for student engagement/success.
At the Student Summit, the participants in the breakout sessions were very different, in terms of how the participants were using their time and interacting with one another in the sessions. The students started off listening to the presenter but as soon as they were accessing the proper #GAFE resource, they were off and running. They began to discover the tools and tricks of the resources on their own and were excited to share their learning with each other. The difference between the educator and student summits was fairly striking!
The breakout session for the adults at #gafesummit created excitement and energy as we learned how to use the tools but the room itself was still fairly controlled and compliant to the presenter’s schedule and information being provided. The breakout rooms at the Student Summit was very different. The presenter still stood at the front and introduced the #GAFE resources, and its many uses, but the kids didn’t wait t be told why they should use it or how they can use it. They simply began to “click and play” and share their new findings with each other. The room was noisy, busy and….fun!
Upon reflection of that wonderful day at the #GAFE #StudentSummit, I began to wonder.
I wonder when, as adults, we lost our sense of adventure for “clicking, playing and sharing”?
I wonder how as educators our own habits of waiting for PD to fall into our laps impacts student learning?
I wonder if, as adults, in the face of work , family and community responsibilities , we can rediscover our sense of “click, play, share”?
The best way to take control of your PD is to create a Twitter account and begin to open yourself up to being a connected learner. There is an entire virtual community out there that is knowledgeable and passionate about the topics you are interested in. The online community is supportive and nurturing and wants to learn from you and your experiences as much as they want to share their understanding, skills and experiences virtually.
Go ahead- click, play and share! We owe it to our students and ourselves!
Virtual PD Opportunities:
Bring IT Together: #BIT14
Google Summits: #gafesummit
“Your life as a teacher begins the day you realize that you are always a learner.”
-Robert John Meehan