Edutopia was one of the many organizations, companies, and communities participating in the fourth annual Connected Educator Month (CEM), a celebration of online communities of practice originally developed by the U.S. Department of Education with partners. As with previous years, October 2015 included an array of rich opportunities for informal professional development, both for educators with established professional learning networks (PLNs) and for those just getting started.
Though the month has concluded, the need to connect has not. Consider using some of the resources below to engage in do-it-yourself professional development all year long.
You might want to consider attending an edcamp. Why? In "Why Edcamp?" Kristen Swanson discusses how these educator-driven "unconferences" present invaluable opportunities for learning, growing, connecting, and sharing. You can find the complete edcamp calendar on the edcamp website or on Edutopia's events page, updated weekly.
If you missed one of the hundreds of events during CEM 2015, visit the CEM Archives for access to recordings, transcripts, and other professional-development resources from October. The archived events are searchable by audience, event type, and topic. The Connected Educators website also maintains a showcase of opportunities for sustained professional development in the form of courses, classes, and clubs.
4. With New Tools: Experiment with connection tools and technologies. If possible, find a colleague to join you. The Connected Educator Starter Kit guides you step-by-step through many of the ways you can connect and collaborate via social media, wikis, blogs, and multimedia tools. Here are a few other ideas to explore:
5. By Sharing Your Work: Sharing information publicly about your work as an educator, including news, reflections, successes, struggles, or resources, can be a powerful way to connect to other educators or community members. Consult the following pieces on Edutopia for advice and guidance: "Find Your Digital Space," by Andrew Marcinek, and "Start Your Teaching Blog: Resources, Advice, and Examples," by Matt Davis.
Moroder, a project manager with the non-profit Digital Promise, makes a case for micro-credentials in an educational landscape that encourages non-traditional learning for students while still evaluating teachers' PD by traditional measures.
Guymon, an online middle school teacher, provides an overview of how Twitter, blogs, edcamps and Google Hangouts are becoming the backbone of DIY professional development in the 21st-century educational ecosystem.
Why wait for a formal workshop environment to start improving your teaching craft, when there are so many opportunities to build your network and learn new skills on your own? We've compiled a list of the best resources for do-it-yourself PD to get you started.
Leoni, Edutopia's director of social media strategy and marketing, returns from ASCD's annual conference with 10 tips to become a connected educator, including making the time to connect, following educators you respect, and being open to making mistakes.