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I've had a couple of weeks to think about my last post and since that time I've been involved in some activities that no one in my school district would consider "Professional Development." This is in spite of the fact that I have added several things "to my sea bag" (as we Navy folks like to say).
The picture at the left is how I think of myself sometimes with this social media stuff. I'm the old guy out there on my own trying to get the lay of the land. An interesting and related fact I read about this week is that older educators are embracing social media before the younger teachers. That's a topic for another blog post down the pike.
So what have I done, professionally, since the last post? Well there was the Tuesday night #edchat on twitter which continued discussing this very topic. Before it even got hopping someone put up "Two pages of Twittertools for Teachers" (One and Two). Thank you, I'll add that to the sea bag. But no one cares that I've honed my twitter skills - did I really develop professionally?
Next someone shared a blog post that got me thinking about how I handle tough questions and discussions when they come up in class. I've since had time to digest his thoughts and I know I'll better handle situations like this in my classroom. Thank you, I'll add that to the sea bag.
I then saw a link to a post by Mathew Campbell about whether assessment hinders learning which led me to a speech by Professor Dylan Wiliam on this subject. I learned a lot and it made me think. And, thank you, I'll add that to the sea bag.
It's now less than 2 minutes into this hour long #edchat and the conversation is just picking up. And, remember, the discussion is officially about "Considering education reform - innovations, strategies and methods"
In the next 58 minutes I will have another 5 to 10 links to online articles or blog posts that I will want to read and comment on. I'll hear from some of the people considered on the cutting edge of education reform and I'll hear from average, every-day, teachers like myself who have opinions or questions on this topic. I'll fire off a humorous quip to one of my twitter friends (friends, even though we have never met face-to-face) and I'll dismiss that guy who always seems to have an opinion different than mine with a counter example. By the time I finish my brain is sore, my back is sore, and my typing skills have improved from having to type 140 characters as fast as I can.
Another way I was educated this week was attending a webinar on Eluminate with Steve Hargadon about building an open social network. This was a wonderful experience and, being on Eluminate, allowed for being interactive with Steve either by submitting questions or actually asking questions. Thank you Web 2.0 Classroom and The Educator's PLN for getting me interested in this.
All of the thoughts, links, and information will be stored in that sea bag of mine. Along with all of the other thoughts, links, and information that I've accumulated over the years. But no one in my district will give me credit for that increase in knowledge. No one will come up to me and say wow that was really some great stuff last night. Nope, they are too busy or too dismissive of that "twitter stuff - what did you eat for lunch today?", to take what I learned as being professionally developed.
What will it take for my school district to decide that developing my skills, professionally, doesn't have to take place in one of the schools in the district while being conducted by one of the employees of the district. And, professional development doesn't have to cost a ton of money.
While I am writing this I am attending Blogathon ATX which is an all day blogging session with a couple of dozen bloggers from all walks of life. Simultaneously, I am "attending" Educon 2.3 in Philadelphia (virtually, of course). I am monitoring the hundreds of tweets from the conference and I have selected live-streamed panels that I will watch. The conference started last night where I watched the initial lecture and it will continue tomorrow (and I'll be watching and reading tweets). All of this costs me nothing and all of the information I attain will be added to my sea bag. But, I won't get a credit because I'm not getting trained professionally.