Take Ownership of Your Professional Development

When many teachers visualize “professional development” they likely envision a regularly scheduled event that shows a group of teachers being guided through the implementation of a specific initiative, strategy, or framework.

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This may also include small group meetings like PLCs where teachers are scheduled a time to collaboratively analyze data and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction in their classroom.

This type of professional development certainly has its place in schools. However, it is often criticized for not meeting the individual needs of teachers.

As educators, we recognize the importance of differentiating in our classrooms, but we also know how challenging this can be.  Consider the challenge it is for an administrative team to lead an organized professional development that addresses the needs of every staff member in its building.

While participating in building and district professional development is important, as educators, we should consider additional ways to take ownership of our own professional development to create relevant and useful learning opportunities.

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This does NOT mean a teacher should plan to spend every waking hour researching the newest strategy or looking for the latest technology app… a healthy balance of professional and personal life is very necessary. Be sure to find the balance.

I am fortunate to work in a district that gives its teachers many opportunities to pursue the learning they want or need and to develop these professional skills through conferences, books studies, and district organized courses (Read more about this: CBU allows teachers to sharpens skills).

However, there are many opportunities for teachers to seek personalized professional development that meets their needs.

Whether you can dedicate 1 hour a week or 15 minutes a day, there is a way to take ownership of your professional development.

1. Create a Personal Learning Community using Social Media 

Connecting with other educators on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or other platforms can give you an opportunity to learn from others who are faced with the same challenges as you on a daily basis. While you are catching up on the latest pictures posted by your friends and family, you might also come across a shared blog post about a great classroom management strategy. Delve into the article right then or save it for later when you have some downtime or are ready to try it! 

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Recently, I’ve really enjoyed reading articles by Edutopia on Facebook and have been finding lots of great things through #edtech and #edchat on Twitter.

2. Attend Education Conferences

Need some new ideas or inspiration? Conferences can be the best place to listen to what is working for other educators and consider ways to make it happen in your classroom! Even if your school doesn’t have a budget to send you across the country, search for local conferences on whatever interests you… technology? content? educational leadership? Conferences can be an awesome place to connect with others and get a new perspective! 

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I have had great experiences at NCTE and ISTE conferences!

3. Find a Book

Sometimes reading a new perspective (or being reminded of great ideas from the past) can be the inspiration a teacher needs to recharge. Ask your colleagues or administration for a reading suggestion and challenge yourself to take something away from the book. It can be even more powerful to read it with colleagues and collaborate on how to integrate it into your instruction. (Recently, I gained many ideas and insights from Making Thinking Visible & Guided Instruction.)

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I like to browse the ASCD Reading List to find a new resource or idea!

4. Find Free Online Training

You can find free inspiration, courses, and materials all over the internet. Follow some education blogs, search for free materials, or find some tutorials on YouTube. 

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Right now I am loving the Google for Education Training that I am working on!

Think of your professional development as a state of mind, not an event. 

 

Read more about taking ownership of your professional development:

Keep the conversation going…

  • How do you take ownership of your own professional development?
  • What hashtags do you follow to stay recharged and fresh in the classroom?
  • What challenges are there when managing your own professional development?

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment below or sharing it on Facebook or Twitter!

Teachers Texting Students…What!?

Teachers Texting Students…What!?

Last week, the school board in my district approved an updated policy for “Employee Useof Social Media/Electronic Messaging.” The several-page-long document described the expected conduct of employees on all forms of social media.town-sign-1148028_960_720

The release of the policy stirred a lot of conversation between staff members. There were questions of concern and comments of frustration:

  • …but I use Twitter to communicate with my students about school!
  • Is what I post on my personal Facebook page going to get me in trouble?
  • Isn’t this taking away my 1st amendment right to free speech?
  • Does this mean I cannot post a picture of myself enjoying a night out with friends?
  • …but I need to be able to text the athletes on my team to give them activity information!

And the repeated joke… “Careful, big brother is watching…”

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Ultimately, though, the purpose of these policies is to protect students AND staff when it comes to communicating information through social media and electronic messaging.

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It makes sense to communicate with your students using technology… social media is the center of their universe!
With the release of this policy, I thought it a perfect time to talk about a GREAT TOOL I use CONSTANTLY to communicate with students safely.

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www.remind.com

 Remind is:

  • FREE!
  • very simple to sign up for and to begin using immediately with students.
  • NOT associated with your personal phone number OR students’ personal phone numbers.
  • a safe way to send a reminder or announcement to an entire class in seconds!
  • easy for anyone! No technology expertise required!
  • Did I mention… FREE!

I love that Remind is an instant, safe, efficient, and FREE way to communicate with students!

Student Sign Up: I have students sign up for the classes or groups that apply to them on Day 1 of the class or practice!

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Display the sign-up information on the board, print out handouts, or send out via email.

Assignment Reminders: I send reminders to students about assignments, deadlines, and other announcements. They receive them just like a text message!

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You can even schedule messages ahead of time or attach files of information.

Practice/Meeting Announcements: I send reminders to the clubs I sponsor about meeting times, competitions, or schedule changes.

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Student Responses: Students can respond with questions or issues. All interaction is saved and documented on your Remind account…

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Receive questions back from students.
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Message a student individually.

Get the Mobile App: Remind has a mobile app that allows you to send these safe messages from your phone… but it is still not revealing your personal phone number!

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How other teachers are using Remind:

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Communicating through technology is a part of our current society. Remind is one way to communicate with students in a safe and efficient way! 

Follow @RemindHQ on Twitter for news and updates!

Keep the conversation going…

  • How could you use Remind?
  • What complications do you see with communicating with students via technology?
  • What other tools do you use to safely communicate with your students?

P.S. If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment below or sharing it on Facebook or Twitter!