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Thursday, August 11, 2016

Professional Learning: Information is not the Main Idea

How will you design optimal learning/teaching paths with and for students this year? 
Information is everywhere.

Give me a topic and within seconds I'll have a promising handful of resources with which to teach that topic.

It's so clear that educators today don't need professional learning that simply shares resources--that's not valuable anymore. There was a time, however, when resources weren't readily available like today and those professional learning shares were helpful.

Professional learning today needs to be deeper and more targeted to be valuable.

Learning today is maximized by the following activities:
  • Working with a similarly-focused small team with apt process to create, reflect, and refine process and content for best teaching/learning.
  • Troubleshooting and prioritizing with a small group of diverse, but similarly invested, thinkers.
  • Targeted, rich, and deep coaching when the coach is clearly an expert in the area of study.
  • Student/Teacher creative teams who work together to gain knowledge, skill, and concept and present that learning effectively to others.
  • Identifying a worthy learning challenge, charting a learning path, and working on your own and with others to travel that path.
  • Time to practice worthy learning/teaching skills with others. 
With the exception of the spectacular expert or information agent, one-size-fits-all learning should be deleted from professional learning events. For the most part, that kind of learning can be presented in an online information list that educators can access on their own while relaxing, cooking dinner, or here and there when they have a few minutes.

The precious time to meet and work together ought to be well designed, targeted, and meaningful minutes of shared learning, creativity, inspiration, and result. 

What will your professional learning look like this year as you work on your own and with colleagues? Will you work with one another to design rich, deep learning choices rather than old time one-size-fits-all "sit and git" learning, the kind that's easy to plan but results in little valuable takeaway. In fact that old time professional learning can take educators back with regard to the oppressive nature of that learning venue.

I will be thinking about this as I work with students too. How will I help them to identify, create, and travel their learning paths this year? How will I teach them to take control and advocate for their learning needs and interests? What kind of coach, mentor, and teacher will I be?