Professional Development (PD)…two words that can trigger frustration and eye rolls among working adults. This is not to say that PD has nothing to offer but rather that PD is often doled out in a one-size-fits-all fashion. We all have our own unique situations, skills sets, and issues, so, often, PD tends to become monotonous and irrelevant, making it feel like a waste of time.
However, technology has brought forth a way to relieve this negativity. Many professionals are utilizing webinars and social networking sites like Twitter to engage in more meaningful and relevant PD conversations, while also expanding their professional learning networks.
Over the past three weeks, I “attended” and participated in four live webinars and four Twitter chats of my choosing. (see table)
|The Intersection of Design Thinking & Leadership||#engagechat|
|ISTE 2018: The Game Plan of What You Can’t Miss||#flipgridfever|
|Project-Based Learning with Agile Project Management||#21stedchat|
|Why Are We Learning This? Strategies to Help Students Find Relevance in School Work||#aplitchat|
Interestingly enough, the topics suited a broad audience of professionals from all over the country and even internationally. It is an interesting dynamic that online PD presents…almost paradoxical. Face-to-face PD delivered to such a broad audience can sometimes fall flat or seem irrelevant due to the lack of contextual examples or applications of the content; however, the online sessions delivered to us affords this same broad audience the opportunity to be comfortable, to interact with one another, and to share personal experiences without being “disruptive” or monopolizing the time allotted for the training. One major difference is that participants in these “just-in-time” sessions, such as webinars and chats, choose to be present (even in pjs) and are allowed to interact as little or as much as desired. Their feedback and input is valued and adds to the richness of the conversation.
During my webinar and chat sessions, I started out by making my presence known through introductions, answering moderator questions, and gradually built up to sharing personal experiences. I have made some new connections with teachers within my content area, and I look forward to collaborating with them and sharing ideas. I gained a better sense of professional community by seeking out what best worked for me. As selfish as this may sound, when we seek out solutions and ideas for our personal gain, we strengthen our skills much more than any prescribed “sit and get” session. Moreover, the convenience of the real-time sessions were flexible and plentiful, so I felt more comfortable in choosing what would best “work” for me and, in turn, serve my students best. I foresee many more online PD sessions in y future, but I would also like to see a wider acceptance of this form of PD from employers in lieu of the traditional and often mandatory sessions. Whether tangible credit will be accepted as such is still unknown, I will continue to seek out new and engaging ways to prepare my current and future classes.
“Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.” — Bruce Lee