I reflect often on a conversation I had with a High School Assistant Principal I shadowed before I took my first job in administration. She informed me about a real issue for most administrators that I had not yet thought about, there wasn't time during the school day to attend Professional Development. She couldn't remember the last time she had been out of district for a conference or PD opportunity. The campus needed her there everyday and there wasn't a lot of funding for her to do it if she could leave. I remember feeling my heart drop to my stomach with disappointment. I had a passion and need to be moved forward with meaningful and innovative PD. I couldn't fathom how I could be a true instructional leader without it!? I made a vow to myself that night, no matter how hard the job became, I would find the time to stay connected and current.
I didn't have anything else going on one Saturday that summer and was asked by a former colleague to make the trek over to Timberview Middle School for EdCamp Fort Worth. This Saturday trip would become an awakening for me into the world of Twitter and digitally connected educators. (On a side note, this school was fantastically designed to support collaborative learning. I was instantly intrigued by how thoughtful every area of the school seemed to be in regards to learning and celebrating kids.)
If you've never been to one, EdCamps are specifically designed to create a participant-driven, fun-filled day of collaboration and learning. Educators can connect with like-minded individuals, collaborate ideas, brainstorm solutions to common education problems, have group discussions, and receive information that can immediately be applied in the classroom. In the participant driven sessions, EdCampers are expected to vote with their feet and take control of their professional learning. The experience is enhanced with the fact that all of the sessions were sharing info with anyone interested through Twitter (Oh, and did I mention, it is FREE?) I was floored! EDCamps occur on Saturdays and are usually open to anyone that is interested in joining. They are the perfect opportunity for educators that can't be away from the campus to get connected and stay current. I took many things away from that afternoon, but the most impactful would have to be the importance of educational PD on Twitter.
Who knew that you could access real time, relevant PD from your cell phone? My understanding of Twitter to that point was limited to having an account and watching other people post 140 character statements with funny hashtags.I had no idea you could sit in your living room and share ideas, collaborate, and actively participate in discussions/ debates with some of the most innovative educators out there. My understanding of how it works has slowly developed. (** Check this out: 5 Stages to Twitter Usage .) It is now the single biggest outlet for my professional development. I am excited to participate in weekly edchats with my Professional Learning Network. I consult with them, learn new ideas, and am regularly inspired! My fear of sporadic or nonexistent professional development is now gone. I am even working on moderating my first chat, that so happens to be with fellow organizers for EdCamp Parker County. It will be hosted in my current district but open to everyone! Relevant and meaningful PD has become a passion of mine and through Twitter and attending Edcamps, I can fulfill my everyday campus duties while staying in the know about exciting things in education. ( Awesome resource for the best chats: http://teachlearnlead.weebly.com/twitter-pln.html … …) I encourage all educators to get involved and find out more about how these outlets for professional growth can help you get connected. Have a voice and take control of your learning as a connected educator!