Educators are taking control of their own learning and their own destinies; they are literally reshaping the way that professional development has always worked. Professional development for educators has traditionally consisted of a few elements: expensive conferences, professional journals which can also be expensive, professional literature, and meetings with other members of their staffs. None of these things have gone away. In fact, in many places, these are still the de facto standards when it comes to professional development.
Educators are innately resourceful, though. A skill that runs throughout many educators is the ability to whatever tools are at our disposal and adapt them to meet both our needs and the needs of our students. It has been obvious to many for a long time that technological tools can help open up a world of learning to students. What about the teachers’ learning, though? If our children are really going to get a good education, then all of our teachers need to always continue learning as much as they can, about themselves, about their ideas, about teaching, about their students, about their content, etc… It is vital that educators remain plugged in where they can get refreshed and renewed on a regular basis.
Many educators have, as I said, reclaimed control over their own learning. They are learning at an incredible pace all the time while collaborating with people literally all over the world. They are using social media to discuss best practices and innovative ideas with some of the best minds in education. They are planning, hosting, and attending free conferences to improve what they are doing. They are organizing and sharing their own knowledge. It is making a significant difference in the lives of their students. Over the course of the next few weeks, these posts will delve deeply into the why and how of this new professional development, which will be referred to as professional development 2.0.
The fact that this is happening in today’s educational climate is nothing short of amazing. The heart of a teacher is something awe-inspiring. Budgets are continually being cut all over the country. Positions are being cut, technology is being reduced, and class sizes are ever increasing. There is often no money for traditional professional development such as sending educators to conferences or hiring speakers to come to the districts. Top-heavy control from both state and national government is increasing and is trying to shift the focus of education; a teacher’s value may now be reduced to their students’ performance of a test.
Maybe it is precisely this climate that has forced educators to be so resourceful in trying to improve on their own. Many educators are realizing that they are not going to get the help they need from their school or their government, so they seek elsewhere. Do you know what they find? Educators are caring people who want to help others to grow. The community of teachers worldwide who spend countless hours of their own time to help each other improve is immense, thriving, and ever growing. Professional development 2.0 is not a trend; it is the future of the way we learn.