February 11, 2017

Personalizing Professional Development...for All

The big talk in education right now is the concept of personalized learning. Yes, I know, this is not new but the talk has been rejuventated and quite honestly it is spot on.

No matter what you think, kids learn differently now. Times have changed, attention-spans are shorter and innovations are coming out at an unbelievable rate (sometimes too fast).

Let's shift the conversation from personalized learning for students to personalized learning for adults. We know it is in the best interest to make learning relevant for kids...to meet them where they are. Should we not be thinking the same for adults as well??

I am not advocating the total elimination of group professional development or attending conferences because I do believe there is benefit in that.

However, what if we were able to personalize our own learning (that may include conferences and group PD) but also include ways in which we are learning what we need NOW instead of what "everybody" needs. Conferences such as the TETC and the TSIN STEM Summit and the Google Summits have been great experiences for me. The BEST things about those experiences are the contacts and connections I make that allows me to continue my learning beyond the conference.

I have a terminal degree from the University of Tennessee Chattanooga and my experience was phenomenal. The classes were great. The dissertation process was rigourous but meaningful. But, the biggest gain to this day were the connections with my professors and classmates that has allowed me to continue my learning beyond the school house doors.

In addition to the things I am required to do (for TASL credit) I am able to personalize and be intentional as to what I learn. Should that not be the same for everyone??

For some, the status quo of meetings, trainings, conferences etc is enough. For others like me (#TeamDisruption) I want to have more control over what I learn.

How do we do it?

Here is what I do...


I read constantly. You may have seen my references to books, articles and blogs. Remember, I like to share...

BTW, you can get all of the cool things I share (every Friday) by clicking HERE...

Not only do I read daily but I like to keep my phone or a notebook close by so I can jot ideas that come about while I am reading. Even the fiction books I read have the potential to give me ideas of what I what to share or what I want to learn about.

And of course when I read something I like...I share. I truly believe the act of sharing information that one has learned increases the learning of the person sharing too...WIN WIN.

The image below shows another way I share (and learn). Those shelves are right outside my office and contain books that I think can be beneficial to people in my building. 

Podcast (making and listening)

Don't get me wrong but I love music. But, most of the time when I am traveling somewhere, I have a podcast playing in the background. My podcast list includes spiritual ones, health and fitness topics, business, education, history and even humor.

Here is a screenshot of some of my favorite podcasts...by the way, I love using Overcast as my podcast player on my I Phone. There are many others but Overcast works the best for me.

In case you weren't aware, one of those is mine. Yep, the Leadership Technology Learning Podcast featuring Yours Truly, Christopher King and Scott Hargrove. We get together and produce a monthly show that provides our listeners with great topics in education. The great thing about it, we are learning a TON as we go through the process as well.  YOU should try it, it really isn't that hard.

Google Hangouts

This one is cool and not new but gaining some momentum in our school system. In March, we are doing a "edcamp" style Google Hangout involving folks in our system (and beyond) where we get together to talk about specific topics without ever leaving our buildings. The opportunities are exciting and endless. It is not uncommon for me to Google Hangout with one of my colleagues or friends when I have an idea and get stuck. It is that easy! 

What can I say...Twitter has changed the way I do business. Not only have I been more intentional about promoting the great things going on at WMS (see #WestBobcats) but I have connected with so many like-minded people around the world. I am able to find answers to problems I may have. I am able to get some great ideas to utilize and share. And I am able to build relationships with some really cool people in the process.

If you haven't participated in a Twitter Chat, there are a bunch. Even if you feel the need to "lurk" or just watch, that is ok. You will learn pretty quickly how the process works.

Here are some of my favorites...

Teaching and Coaching Days

I have taught for several years at the university level and the experience has been tremendous. Not because I am a great teacher or that I make some extra money but again, I meet some great, like-minded folks who are just as eager to learn as me. 

I have also added something new this year thanks to Amy Fadeji,  The Shuran Coaching Day. Every Thursday, I keep my calendar open and allow anyone in my building to schedule for a specific period of time. They can schedule me to do anything...yes anything. I regularly talk with 8th grade language arts about topics in motivation. I have worked with 6th graders on math projects. I have even led and participated in a band lesson. 

This has been one of the best things I have done since entering the admin world. By the end of the day I am exhausted so it helps remind me of how difficult teachers have it. But, it is more than that. I am still honing my craft. Teachers get to see me in action, students get to see that I am not just an a guy in an office. It truly has been life/career altering. Below is a recent coaching day where I spent a little time with 8th graders discussing technology and the Civil War.

These are just ideas of mine, I know you have some too. Share the wealth so more and more folks can get on the road to intentional, personalized learning...for themselves.


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