George Lucas Educational Foundation

Informal Professional Development and Personal Learning Networks.

Informal Professional Development and Personal Learning Networks.

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What purpose do informal Professional Development and Personal Learning Networks play in today's educational system?

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Deb Selanders's picture
Deb Selanders
Second grade teacher from Globe, Arizona

Hello Keith. It's so nice to hear from you again.

We have early release for our students every Friday at 12:30. At 1:30 we start our Professional Development workshops, and end at 4:00. We sign in, then start our discussion. One example is that we brainstormed over what our vocabulary words would be for each grade level, get together at our own grade level, type up our list, report the following week, then hand it into the principal.

Another example is that we go to different sites like our Middle School and receive training on Thematic Units, Multitude of Measurement: A Science/Math integration, Microsoft Power Point, Creative Writing Strategies, How to Deal With Brain Trauma, etc.

The people who run the sessions that we choose from are administrators, teachers, technology experts, etc. Most of the time they are worthwhile, and I can learn a lot. Once in a great while, I ask myself what I was thinking when I signed up for the class.

I think that they can be equally beneficial. It depends on what it is. For instance, I found the Brain Trauma session to be very beneficial because I might some day have a student with Traumatic Brain Injury.

The informal vocabulary session was beneficial because we collaborated as a team and set our second grade goals for the year on what vocabulary was important for our learners to know.

There are sometimes when we just get to work in our rooms, and that is very beneficial because I get to finish up lesson plans for the following week, put my next week objectives and goals on my classroom wall, write the following week's Daily Math and Daily Language on my chalkboard, and distribute the following lessons for the next week on the desks.

Next week is our Spring Break, so I will prepare for the following week.

Since I am a new teacher, I am require to take a Reading training course. It's at my school every Tuesday from 3:00-4:00. I have learned about phonemic awareness, Phonics instruction,word fluency,and different teaching strategies, such as the 3 phases of word recognition. They are logographic,alphabetic, and orthographic. That's just a small example of what I've been learning in this class. It's taught by our Reading Specialist.

Oh, I'm sorry. I just noticed that you asked if there are any follow-up after the meetings. Again, it depends. The Traumatic Brain Injury had 3 parts to it. The Power Point session does not have a follow up. There was a Project Wet-6-12 session which had 3 parts.

Our informal vocab session had a follow-up as I stated earlier, but sometimes there is not a follow-up

I believe you when you say we should all come down there. I can't speak for the other teachers, but visiting Australia is a goal of mine.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

Hi Deb,
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to me. It sounds like you have a much more structured approach to PD that we do in our current system.

I might have some more questions in the future; I hope you don't mind me asking them.

Thanks again.

Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Edcamper, Former @Edutopia, Founder of Social Media Marketing Consultancy aimed at helping educational orgs.

This blog post, Part 1: Using Digital Tools to Support PLCs was really interesting on PLNs in education. Plus the wiki he links to really makes his work of bringing a structured PLN to his school come to life.

I think he's planning on writing a 4 part series on PLN's in education:

"(Blogger's Note: In the next few weeks, look for additional posts in this series. I'm hoping to write about the role that asynchronous conversations, social bookmarking and RSS feed readers can play in making collaboration easier for PLCs.)"

Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Edcamper, Former @Edutopia, Founder of Social Media Marketing Consultancy aimed at helping educational orgs.

Very cool professional development resource provided by The Clever Sheep: What Would Yoda Do? A Jedi Approach to Professional Development.

Not only is it ridiculously funny, it's produced by crowd-sourcing (as in others contributed many points). I'd be interested to hear if anyone uses this Scribd deck to introduce their PD sessions.


Donelle O'Brien's picture
Donelle O'Brien

It's been about 6 months since you mentioned wanting to try twitter. How has your experience been?

Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Edcamper, Former @Edutopia, Founder of Social Media Marketing Consultancy aimed at helping educational orgs.

There was a powerful statement written in this blog post, "Twitter as a PLN", that I'd love to hear your thoughts on:

"I have found more resources and got more useful advice for professional development in 3 months on Twitter than in the previous 5 years without it."

This is great read and it makes the case for getting involved with Twitter to build your Personal Learning Network (PLN).

Erika Saunders's picture
Erika Saunders
6th-8th Special Ed, LS & Mentally Gifted teacher


It's been about 6 months since you mentioned wanting to try twitter. How has your experience been?[/quote]

I really loved using Twitter! I found myself connecting with so many educators and there were great ideas constantly being posted and reposted. I truly recommend it!

Unfortunately, I deleted my account. :( My Partner deals with capital cases. She sees a whole other side to social media and has never really been comfortable with me being so "out there". I don't see it in the same light - to me there are far more benefits that out weigh any risks. Social media is here to stay. We just have to learn how to be responsible and safe, as with anything in life.

However, as a form of compromise, I agreed to end Twitter but keep my other accounts/activities active. I could NEVER give up Edutopia!!!

George Stern's picture
George Stern
Intern at Edutopia, college student, aspiring Educator.

Hey all,

We're doing a giveaway over in our Reform Starts Here group around professional development and I want to make sure you all know about it. We have bundles of great teacher support and teach development books and we're going to give them to the six commenters with the most votes by next Wednesday. Comments must be in response to the question: "How can we support good teachers and keep them in the profession?" Head on over and share your ideas!

Dorothy Fox's picture

The PLN is increasingly important in the life of a teacher. Change and reform is happening at such an accelerated pace. New and innovative ideas are available to teachers who become connected. I have just begun to grow my PLN and I am wowed by the learning that I have been exposed to in a short time. It has changed my world. The connectivity that has started with my PLN is amazing, exciting and information filled. Best practice is at my fingertips! Please add me to your twitter following if you can #dee8906!

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