Monday, May 8, 2017

Personalized Professional Learning: Consequence of a Growth Mindset

                   As I have worked with teachers implementing the Raising Blended Learners grant this school year, personalized learning and its myriad benefits have consumed my thoughts. A panel about personalized PD at TCEA in February pushed this idea higher on my personal "learn-more-about" list. From books to Twitter chats to workshops to webinars to huge conferences to campus-based teacher-led sessions, professional learning opportunities abound for educators who desire to grow and improve their practice.
            When I was still in my classroom, my personal professional development largely came from district and campus trainings. My own children were young, and my nights, weekends, and summers were crammed full of kid activities and transporting the kids to those activities. I attended small local conferences when I could, and I participated in our district Twitter chat, but I did not really tap into personalized professional development then like I have in the last two years.
             Some of that is because in my position I help teachers connect with the most relevant professional development for them which has pushed me to become a flexible, personalized PD curator. As I have worked to find different options for different teachers, I have enlarged my definition of professional learning to include every little connection and learning opportunity no matter how small or whether or not it comes with state-recognized credit. Sometimes just connecting with another educator in a different district who teaches the same subject can provide a teacher with instructional ideas and validation that can transform learning in her classroom without a huge time commitment.
           Expanding teachers' perceptions and access to the multitude of professional learning available actually has become the most important part of my job because I can't possibly support every need of every teacher that I am assigned to support, and that is ultimately what I want to do. Helping all of them locate, evaluate, and participate in truly personalized professional learning is more valuable to them than me delivering one-on-one trainings to the select few who make time to meet with me during their conference periods. Jason Bretzmann's work on flipping professional development is summarized in the graphic above and is anchored in the core concept of "choice" for teachers as an essential component of personalized learning. Considering how I can best communicate the ways I can help teachers tap into the best personalized professional learning makes me think about the learner profiles that are used with students in personalized learning. Designing detailed and insightful learner profiles that aren't too long or cumbersome for teachers will be the first step for me as I focus on connecting teachers to the best "just-in-time" learning opportunities that also fit with the elements of "CHOICE".