Saturday, June 25, 2016

Professional Development in the Library

So I just attended a workshop at Region 13 ESC led by Leslie Barrett (@lesliebarrett13) called Change Agent: Leading PD from the Library.

I am excited about adding Professional Development (PD) to the library next year. I used to do PD for a living, and loved that aspect of my career. And there is so much I want to share with my teachers.

The research that Leslie has done and my own experience reminds me how useless "drive-by" PD typically is. If you are a teacher, you have been required to attend a day long workshop at your school that was selected by your principal with no voice in what it was about. Many times, that session just checked the box for the admin that offered training whether or not it was relevant to the teachers or not. And I have been one of the PD providers that gets the call a month in advance asking me to throw something together so the admin can check that box. Totally not fun!! Not for the teacher forced to attend or the presenter who knows their audience had rather be anywhere else.

Effective PD must be ongoing and relevant. It cannot be a single 6 hour workshop on a topic of non-interest. We, as educators, need to rethink PD and look for ways to change traditional practices.

Where do you learn new things? Do you watch YouTube videos? Do you follow experts or relevant hashtags on Twitter? Do you read blogs or online articles? Do you read books? Do you create boards on Pinterest?

Personally, I do all of those things! I am an avid furniture refinisher. YouTube and Pinterest are my first spots for learning new methods and looking for project ideas. Many professionals use those same avenues to find resources for their careers. Why aren't we awarding credit for those PD activities? Why must we sit in a full day of face-to-face "sit and get" for it to "count"?

My ideas for offering PD in the library for the next school year are as follows:

1. Weekly Newsletter - I started sending a Smore every Monday to my staff and students. It included new books, great apps, and just cool online stuff. I will continue this practice but make it more structured based on Technology standards.

2. Tech Playgrounds - We have started a Makerspace in the library and would love for teachers to get some hands-on experience with these tools. I also think these afterschool sessions would be a great way to extend the learning from the ideas shared in the weekly newsletter.

3. Video tutorials -  I will continue to make and share video tutorials. Whether it is a cool app, a new digital procedure, or a reminder of how things work, providing these resources for teachers is important.

4. Blended learning opportunities - Since we are a Google Apps for Education district, I would love to use Google Classroom to facilitate a PLC on campus. Maybe we do face-to-face sessions with the online discussions. Maybe we collaborate online. Maybe I flip the sessions and teachers submit projects through the tools Google provides. I think this can organically evolve as we give it a try.

The most important thing is that we get started offering powerful PD. Where will you start?




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