My Personal Development Plan

Patrick DeCosta

The Beginning

The only way to grow as a person, an eductor and a leader is to constantly work to improve yourself through collaboration, continuing education and the ability to welcome change. It has always been my intention in life to never be complacent and and try to push myself to learn and grow. My plan for professional development is one that hopefully is a rewarding as it is challenging. I have only been teaching for four years now in those four years I have been fortunate enough to be a part of some amazing initaitives. I was one of the first teachers to start talk about the “Flipped Classroom”. After watching a Youtube presentation by Jon Bergmann, one of the “flipped” pioneers I began with some basic screen casts that I would post on a website that I created. Students could then go home and access them on their phone. The next year all of our students were given Chromebooks. This opened up a whole new world. Other teachers and administrators began to take notice of what I was doing and decided to a teacher profile on my classroom. This teacher profile which was later showed at a building faculty meeting started some big changes in Middletown High School.

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First Steps

In that same year a small group of teachers including myself were sent to a “Flipped Classroom” conference hosted by Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams. This is where many of us saw the power and possibilities of transitioning to a digital flipped classroom. Our district then partnered with a company called Education Elements who would help provided professional development on flipped and blended learning to teachers. Ecucation elements had not yet begun vetured into the flipped world so they asked myself and two other teachers to accompany them to Nashville, TN for an insipration tour of different “Flipped Learning” environments. From this visit and the knowledge I had recieved from my own classroom I began to conduct question and answer sessions with other teachers interested in the digital flipped model. It is in these sessions where I feel that I learned the most about good teaching and incorporating technology. Being able to talk to different teachers with different pespectives and brainstorm ideas and troubleshoot issues was incredibly valuable. A big part of my professional development going farward will be involve brainstorming and problem solving sessions. The theories and ideas of how to teach are out there. The hard part if finding out how to maximize the effectiveness.


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Big Changes

Our district is in going through a major transformation and I am lucky enough to be one of the teacher leaders. I have attended several conferences hosted by Bergmann and Sams and I have attended and been a presenter at conferences and professional development hosted by Education Elements. There is a group of teachers that we refer to as cohort 1.2 who myself and teachers from the first cohort work with closely. These to cohorts of teachers are pioneers of digital flipped teaching at Middletown High school. Throughout the year we have visted and observed one anothers classrooms. We have set up our own mentor program. This program involves informal meetings on our prep periods, lunch or after school and has been essential to my continued growth. Due to my experience with flipped learning I often serve of the sounding board but what I like is that all of us are developing our skills and craft together in different subject at different grades and with students of different ability. Now that the school year is almost complete it leaves the summer for preparation and learning. Several teachers and I will be attending the FlipCon Confernce hosted by Bergmann and Sams in New Paltz on August 1st and 2nd. It is my goal to eventually move from participant to presenter in these conferences.

Opportunity

The Middletown School district provides many opportunities for professional development on technology in the classroom. This is essential given the district initiatives and the Race to the Top grant which has provided all of our students with their own Chromebook. When these initiatives first began I proposed, designed and conducted professional development on the Flipped Classroom. It was a very basic PD session that focused mainly on how to create screencasts and incorporate them into your classroom. Since then I have conducted professional development on building websites using weebly, Google Apps for Education and Verso, which is a free online discussion board. I have been able to do this so far because as a part of my professional development I take risks and try new things and learn as much as a can from the students. YouTube has played a very important role in my professional development because most of the time their is no one else in school trying the things that I am trying so I have to learn from YouTube. Although I am not an administrator and never want to be I have always thought of myself throughout my life as a leader. One quote that has stuck with me and motivated me is actually by John Quincy Adams, whom I do not really like. It says that “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more than you are a leader.” This quote was presented to me early in my undergraduate career at New Paltz and I felt that it fit my life up to that point as would serve me well going forward.
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Into the Future

Currently I am applying to be a Technology Coach for the district in the upcoming school year. In this position I hope to gain access to more teachers and students so that I can both teach them and learn from them. I am also one of the leaders of our newest district initiative which is the curation of a Middletown based Open Educational Resource platform. Myself and another teacher are putting plans together to conduct professional development/informational sessions about OER at our first Superintendent’s Conference day in the fall of 2016. Whether I am chosen to be a Technology Coach or not for the next school year I will continue to work with the District, Education Elements and hopefully Bergmann and Sams to share what I have learned and developed in the last three years. In the next five years I hope to be working as a technology coach who is constantly involved with developing and learning the cutting age digital tools that help facilitate good teaching and learning.
Technology in Education: A Future Classroom
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