Te{a}ch Talk

Tips, Tricks, and Thoughts on Transformation

Volume 1, Number 14, April 23, 2015

21st Century Professional Learning

In the same ways that our students need individualized learning experiences, we need to personalize our own learning as professionals. We've all seen many models of professional development, some much more memorable and impactful than others.

We need to prevent this in our professional development:

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New Opportunities for Personalization

Where and how does your professional learning happen? As educators, most of us value ongoing learning, and we learn in many different venues through various means. Clearly, we have days set aside in our school year for professional development, but that is not sufficient for sustained growth that will continuously improve our practice. Furthermore, inservices and conferences are not typically tailored to individual needs and interests. Now, more than ever, we see teachers and administrators taking their professional learning into their own hands. Most of us already use a great deal of our time and resources on learning and trying new things through individual exploration, graduate programs, conferences, and work with our colleagues.

Professional learning doesn't have to cost a lot of money or require large time commitments

The most inspiring and meaningful professional learning comes from asking our own questions and selecting topics and methods of learning of our choice. While school and district-level offerings have great value in establishing common practices and walking out core values and can be planned according to input from all involved, they are not as flexible as other opportunities.

The recent EdCamp movement is one example. This format of learning allows for crowd sourcing topics and having authentic conversations with others who have similar interests and/or experience. The learning is collaborative and directed by those who choose to attend each session. Typically, the most difficult part of the day at an EdCamp is deciding what sessions to attend. EdCamps are free to participants.

For a listing of EdCamps, click here. Check out upcoming MN events: EdCampMSP, EdCampMN, EdCampSEMN,

In addition to EdCamps and other actual events, we also have access to networks of educators through Google+, Twitter, Schoology, and other content-based online groups. These networks provide a vast array of experiences and perspectives that can inform our practice. The value of using targeted groups or specific hashtags is that our questions can reach a large audience of experts in our fields, which provides opportunities for learning and collegial relationships that have never been possible.

Interested in learning more about these or similar opportunities? Please don't hesitate to be in touch!

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