- Classes cannot be silos. They must be lenses through which we view the world. @chrislehmann #140conf
- There is no value we can say kids must if we are unwilling to do the same. @chrislehmann#140conf
- RT @web20classroom: When was the last time you took kids to the pencil lab? (via@chrislehmann) #140conf
- Children should never be the implied object of their education. @chrislehmann #140conf
- @chrislehmann When technology is used right, we are not aware of it. It needs to be ubiquitous.#140conf
- @chirslehmann “Why do we trust a test that is given on 1 day more than the work they do every day?” #140conf
Chris is a passionate, powerful, and dynamic speaker. I learned more from his session and was more energized from it that most of the formal professional development sessions I’ve attended this year, some of which were greater than 7 hours straight. While I’m listening, I’m also trying to brainstorm ways I can incorporate things he has mentioned into my classes more effectively and spread the message to other teachers.
In addition, one of the recurring themes that come up in discussions with my PLN is the idea of self-directed learning and finding ways for self-directed learning. Unfortunately, professional development is not often like that.
I speak with administrators often. I very rarely hear administrators having discussions on how to empower teachers and allow them to direct their own learning (Please note, this is not to disparage all administrators. I know several in person and online who do try to do this. This is, though, a general trend that I have observed.). My district in particular requires 18 hours of professional development each year by contract. I have no problem with this at all. In fact, I think it is rather minimal.
I have logged hundreds of hours of professional development this year: literally. The difference lies in what I consider effective professional development and what many school districts consider appropriate PD.
My main method of professional development is Twitter. I have espoused this many times. I just cannot express enough how valuable is has been to connect online with so many skilled teachers who I can learn from. For example, through interactions on Twitter, I was able to discuss the relative merits of different social networks and classroom management systems to develop an online space for my kids next year. Then, when I was setting it up, I ran into a technical problem that is quite complex. The educators on Twitter helped me to solve it by sharing both ideas and code. Twitter is my main investment in terms of time for professional development. It is often the first thing I check at 4:30 in the morning and the last thing I check at midnight when I go to sleep (Is that too obsessive?).
Second, writing my blog, interacting with others through the comments, and reading blogs from other teachers allows us to explore issues in great depth. I subscribe to the blogs of about 100 great educators. I am able to explore their thoughts and determine if I want to apply them. I was reading Matt Townsley’s blog and that gave me the inspiration to completely revamp my grading system to make it much more relevant to students.
Third, I have PLC (personal/professional learning communities) where I meet with small groups of teachers and we share what works. We discuss what we’re struggling with and the group members can help each other. We discuss what is going well and we all can benefit. We can dive into great depth on topics that we, as a group, want to explore. Basically, we learn what we want to learn.
Lastly, I have about 25 hours of central office sponsored in-services. 2 days were COMP training (classroom management). It wasn’t terrible; it was fairly basic ideas that for the most part I already knew or used. The other was a 6 hour training on Alexandria, the software my school uses to automate the library. I figured out how to use the simplistic program after 5-10 minutes of playing. Unfortunately, I had to listen to an ancient lady who admitted to “hating children” drone on from a boring manual. There were a few other short in-services that I don’t even remember at the moment.
Overall, I have grown a lot as a teacher this year. My biggest issue is that the only approved “growth” can come from district sponsored activities which have held little meaning for me this year. When are districts going to recognize the inherent power in self-directed learning and give us credit for our own learning activities.