Take control of your own Professional Development

The rate of change in technology is rapid. This also means that the rate of change of what you can do with technology in the classroom is just as rapid. So how do we ensure that we are up to date with the latest and greatest in innovative pedagogy? Do we wait for the one or two conferences a year where we might be quickly introduced to a new idea or resource? Or do we just simply rely on those that we work with to compare and discuss ideas? While both of these avenues for professional development are still useful, there is a much more effective way of going about one’s professional development.

Simply put, teachers need to take a self-directed approach to their own professional development. There is a big push to encourage our students to be self-directed learners. However, are teacher’s practising what they preach? Or are they simply waiting for that once in a blue moon (and often expensive) conference, or waiting for a colleague to show them the next tool that will transform learning?

So how do you become self-directed with your own professional development? While you could spend a lot of time googling various ideas and resources, this is probably not a sustainable and efficient way forward. More importantly, how do you know what is that you are looking for? This is where it is important to build an online Professional Learning Network (PLN). Within the vast social media world, there are huge numbers of amazing and inspiring educators that are sharing their advice, knowledge, ideas and resources through Twitter, Google Plus, Facebook and more. The beauty of using social media as a tool for your own professional development is that you will find things that you never knew you were looking for. Often these are great ideas or resources that you can use to transform learning in your own classroom. Furthermore, you can ask your PLN questions and someone will be sure to respond and offer their opinion or advice.

I am personally a huge fan of using Twitter for my own professional development – and while I also use other forms of social media such as Facebook and Google Plus, my favorite professional learning tool is Twitter for the following reasons:

  • You can follow anyone – therefore you will have access to so many great tweets that are full of awesome ideas and resources.
  • Tweets can only be 140 characters long. This means that it is quick to scan through your Twitter feed to find something that interests you.
  • You can have multiple accounts – therefore you could (and probably should) create one that is solely for your own professional development within education.
  • It is a great way to share ideas and resources that you have thought of or written about on your own website or blog.
  • You can search hashtags such as #edtech. Hashtags are used as a way to categorise tweets, so you can be more specific in what you are trying to look for.
  • You can take part in a range of Twitter chats. This is where educators come together to discuss various ideas and issues in education.

I can safely say that over the last few years, Twitter has had the biggest impact on my development as an educator. I will generally find out something new or something that makes me think about my own practice every time I scroll through my Twitter feed (which I usually do on my phone).

If you are not on Twitter, take the plunge and invest some time into building an amazing, global PLN. You can follow me @samgibson1983 and also check out a previous post I have written called 10 educators you need to follow.

So are you taking a control of your own PD? In this day and age, if you want to stay relevant and give your students the best education possible, then ensure you are taking a self-directed approach to your own PD through social media.