Building a Professional Development Hub for your School- Part 1- Why?

Teachers and administrators struggle to find time to work together in a meaningful way. There are plenty of meetings scheduled. Many teachers leave these meetings though with the feeling of “could have spent my time doing more important things”.

How do we squeeze in one more meeting to help teachers grow as professionals? How do we add one more opportunity for teachers to learn important new skills, listen to one more educational consultant, one more expert on a new initiative? How do we give teachers the time to learn with and from their own colleagues? How can teachers learn from what is going on in the classroom next door?

I am a strong advocate for educators experiencing the type of learning they want to expose, inspire, support in their students’ learning.

If education for the “now” and for the future demands that schools and educators prepare our citizens

  • to be avid (digital) readers or writers, they should be modeling being a (digital) reader and writer
  • to learn to collaborate and work on a (global) team, their teachers should have the skills to work on a (global) team
  • to be online learners, their teachers need to be comfortable learning online
  • to share their learning with peers, their teachers should be openly sharing their own learning with colleagues
  • to become network literate , teachers need experiences with “a basic understanding of network technology, crafting a network identity, understanding of network intelligence and network  capabilities”
  • to leverage the power of a learning network to solve problems and answer beyond “googleable” questions, then their teachers should be connected to a learning network
  • to own their own learning by actively participating and contributing, then their teachers need to be doing the same and modeling life long learning

Building an online professional development hub/community for your school as a platform will give your faculty the opportunity to experience exactly this type of learning.

I will explore this topic in a series of blog posts:

Building_a_PD_community_at_your_schoolAn online PD Hub moves teacher learning into the “Now”, away from one-size-fits all professional development, away from Tuesday’s faculty meeting at 3 pm, away from sitting through professional development workshops that are not relevant to one’s students or subject areas.

Building_a_PD_hub-whyWhy would you want to invest time and resources into building an online professional development hub for your school?

  • Anytime
    Professional development can happen in your pajamas on a Sunday morning or (if you are a night person) at 10 pm at night. Teachers can learn in small chunks of time… 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there… without having to sit through an extended period of time at the end of a long day of work or on a scheduled workshop at 8 am on a weekend.
  • Anywhere
    Learning happens not only in the faculty lounge, media center, at a workshop venue or in a conference room. It can happen at home, in your car (listening to a podcast), waiting at a doctor’s office or at your children’s swim practice or dance lessons. Professional development also does not only happen locally, but teachers can connect to colleagues and learning opportunities around the world.
  • Sharing
    Ewan McIntosh said ” Sharing and sharing online specifically is not in addition to the work of an educator, it is THE work”. Educators are inherently people who share their knowledge. Technology enables us to share at a larger scale, beyond students who are physically in the same place at the same time. Web 2.0 tools give us the ability to create, publish and disseminate what we want to share with a world wide audience. Personal Learning Networks (PLN) are built on the fact that educators will share and contribute to the network as much as they are “taking” from it.
  • Curating
    The word “curation” was taken from the context of a museum curator, who selects, organizes, and presents artifacts to the public using his/her professional knowledge. The school’s PD hub becomes the place (“museum”) for curated information, especially selected, organized and presented by professional educators for each other.
  • Crowdsource
    Crowdsourcing is defined as obtaining information or input into a particular task or project by enlisting the services of a number of people. David Weinberger said: “The smartest person in the room is…. the room”. Harvesting the collective experience of teaching and learning in your school community is worth enlisting all members of your school. It is about taking advantage of a platform that supports and encourages contributions and collaboration through experiences, perspectives and educational data.
  • Engage in conversation
    Many teachers are completely isolated in their classrooms. There is seldom time to chat with colleagues, conversations are cut short by the bell ringing, the next meeting, car pool duty or students needing additional help after class. Meetings are taken up with administrative issues and endless paperwork to be completed. A hub, designed to foster and support conversation among administration and faculty, allows educators to engage in a conversation in their own time, their own space, their interests and at their own level. It also fosters an important modern skill of being able to ” engage colleagues through the use of technology. It’s vital that we educators explore the use of digital PLC’s and the learning that can come from the connections”.
  • Making learning visible
    A PD hub, is a platform to house a myriad of media (text, images, slide decks, videos, audio files, etc.) that showcases and makes the learning taking place at the school visible. Teachers share student learning as well as their own learning by making it visible for others to read, view or listen to.

Take a look at the other sections of the series of Building an online Professional Development Hub for your School