Three Actions to Support Your Professional Learning

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tweetdeck2“The number of chats I follow on Twitter is out of control! The information on my dashboard is overwhelming!’

I know the feeling. My monitor often looks like something you’d expect to see in an air-traffic control tower or the cockpit of a fighter jet. To preserve my sanity and manage the content, I use Tweetdeck, which organizes the information on my dashboard into multiple columns.

Why do I have so many columns? Twitter is one of the tools I use to engage in professional development and to build my Professional Learning Network (PLN). The input I get from the posts and chats keeps me up-to-date on education practices and new technologies. Professional development options for educators are popping up everywhere. Here’s what’s trending.

Engage in Social Media (or at least follow along)

Social media has emerged as a critical element of professional learning.

Social media has emerged as a critical element of professional learning.

Social media platforms offer instant opportunities to learn about best practices and innovative instruction. There is an abundance of information, but it can be personalized by following specific Twitter hashtags (e.g. #edtech, #satchat), Instagram groups (EdTech Baton) and Pinterest boards. Find what is right for you by searching and selecting which live chats to participate in. The level of engagement can vary from trolling for information, posting a thought or opinion, or getting involved in deeper discussions. You can also search for archived materials and conversations.

Read blog posts for professional growth or to participate in what is being called social reading, which includes skimming and scanning the comments section to make connections, share ideas, and summarize thoughts. Getting SmartEdutopia, and Education Week are three popular online communities that offer a variety of blogs from guest bloggers. Many websites list their social media outlets. Be sure to check out what is offered from Curriculum Pathways.

Attend an Online Conference

Engage more and spend less. Online conferences provide unique opportunities for professional development. They tend to be organized around a specific theme or strand and use chats, webcasts, or platforms such as Google Hangout, Periscope, and Voxer to interact. The ISTE Virtual Conference offers free professional learning that “takes advantage of global connectivity to offer a slice of the conference experience to anyone, anywhere.” Want to participate from work or home? No problem. Educause and Global Education Conference have virtual options for their face-to-face conferences.

There’s a reason Edcamps have taken off. The unconference model that is participant-driven and encourages discussions provides high quality, personalized professional learning. And now you can have a connected and participatory learning experience, virtually. Participate in Edcamp Online to propose a session, share ideas, and engage in interactive dialogue. If you are looking for classroom projects, be sure to register for Edcamp Global, which will host their 24-hour online Global Classrooms conference later this month.

Get Yourself a Title

Take a look at profiles on social media, and you are sure to see Google Certified Educator or NAIS Teacher of the Future. These titles distinguish educators with specific expertise, knowledge, and abilities. Google for Education offers various performance-based certificates for mastering and integrating Google tools in the classroom. You determine your needs and find training or professional development to help you earn the certificate. NAIS requires teachers to engage in conversations and work together to develop resources and guidance. Likewise, ambassadorships provide in-depth professional development. Ambassadors are usually expected to advocate, share, and work with others to promote innovation in teaching and learning. Here are some programs to consider:

PD options are limitless. My Tweetdeck columns will keep expanding to include groups and hashtags that interest me. I’m keeping up with trends and personalizing my PD. I encourage you to do the same.

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About Author

Mimi Stapleton

Curriculum Development Specialist

Mimi Stapleton is a curriculum development specialist with Curriculum Pathways. She creates standards-based content for Spanish language learners and ESL, drawing on her experiences in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Virginia Tech and her teaching assignments at both the secondary and university levels. Mimi also facilitates online professional development courses that prepare educators to integrate digital content into instruction. She is an ACTFL/CAEP program reviewer and EdCamper. You can connect with her on Twitter @MimiStapleton.

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