Saturday, March 23, 2019

Professional Learning in the Modern Age

There was a time prior to the ready availability of the Internet when learning depended on quality professional learning events, film, and books. Today the opportunity to learn is everywhere, and that means we have to change our expectations of what optimal professional learning is. Quality professional learning today includes the following:

Know your goals, know your questions
Professional learning today is question/goal driven. Every learner should engage in ready analyses of the goals at hand, then work to revise the goals via questioning and related actions. For example, my overarching questions right now are the following:
  • How do you teach math well? Specifically how do I teach the expected math standards well?
  • How do you teach science well? Specifically how do I teach the expected science standards well?
  • How do I foster the best possible classroom community and individual academic/social emotional learning growth for every learner?
  • How can I work best with my colleagues to answer the questions above and increase our capacity to serve students and their families well.
Establish a nurturing, intelligent, and helpful professional learning network
Online and offline gather a group of individuals that you may learn from, share with, and debate in order to learn and grow. I have a dynamic online and real time professional learning network (PLN) that offers me terrific ideas, invitations, and challenges with regard to doing my work well on a daily basis. This is essential to professional learning in the modern age.

Attend noteworthy professional events
When you know your questions and needs, and you have a great professional learning network, it becomes easy to identify online and offline noteworthy professional events and organizations--the kinds of events and organizations that will help you to do your work better. The combination of your great PLN and knowledge of your questions/needs will also result in the creation of new, collaborative events to fulfill your needs in modern, beneficial ways.

Establish learning paths with back-end design
As John Hattie clearly demonstrated to all of us who have read his books, if we want to achieve, we need to clearly understand the success criteria first, and then create a learning path that moves towards that success criteria. As we move along the learning path, we have to stop, reflect, and revise often in order to positively move towards achieving the results we desire--sometimes this movement results in refining the success criteria as well. When you don't firmly establish a learning path and success criteria, you don't do the good work possible.

Communicate and share your questions, goals, and pursuits
The more open, honest, and transparent we are about our learning paths, success criteria, and goals, the more help and support we'll gain. When your PLN knows where you're headed, they will help you out with lots of connections, ideas, critique, and more. This accelerates your achievement and enriches your result. You also may successfully play that role for others in your PLN.

Effective collaboration
When people work together effectively to meet the goals they've set, generally everyone does better. Good collaboration profits from the following:
  • shared goals
  • honest, respectful, transparent share
  • acceptance of error and working together to use errors as stepping stones to better understanding and success
  • regular meetings 
  • shared documents that invite questions, ideas, connections, and links--using those documents as starting points for meetings
  • effective modern processes for information share, goal setting, reflection, and analyses
Analyze your results effectively, respectfully, and honestly
It's critical to carefully analyze efforts with respect and honesty. Identifying and utilizing timely, effective processes for good analysis leads people forward in ways that matter.

This is my shortlist for professional learning in the modern age. What would you add? What would you change? What haven't I thought of--I welcome your ideas.

My PLN Weighs In: