Monday, February 9, 2015

Pondering Professional Learning

This past weekend, I had a lengthy chat with Cal Armstrong (@sig225), Andrew Campbell (@acampbell99) and Lisa Noble (@nobleknits2) on Twitter about Professional Learning. A few days prior, I had spent over an hour responding to the Ontario College of Teachers' survey on the topic. Since January, I've been taking an Additional Qualification course on Mentoring. This year is also my scheduled Teacher Performance Appraisal. It's pretty clear that professional learning has been on my mind.

This is just a slice of what we discussed on Twitter (we didn't hashtag the conversation, unfortunately).

There was a great side-discussion on what "counts" as "learning" according to the Ontario College of Teachers, the pros and cons of using badges, and AQs. This was just my tweet record of some of the discussion:

Here was the "push my thinking about AQ" quote:

 This is my first AQ course I've taken since I completed my Masters of Education graduate degree in 2010. That doesn't mean that I haven't been busy learning between 2010-2015, but that the types of learning opportunities I've engaged in haven't been the kinds acknowledged with an annotation on my College of Teachers record. Thanks to that Twitter conversation, I'll probably start a section on my wiki ( on what I learn each year.

What influenced me to take this AQ, the first since 2008? As I wrote in my Online Course Journal,
I took that amazing TDSB workshop on mentoring at the urging of MJ Huh, VP at Macklin and a former teaching colleague of mine. I never thought about formal mentoring. I've carved my own time out (e.g. used my open partner time to go to someone else's school to help them understand the TuLiP [Teacher Librarian Planner] for doing lesson plans) and it would be neat to formalize and analyse this. I like evidence-based practice and this would fit so well. I thought it would be wonderful to officially mentor other teacher-librarians.
Does it relate at all to my upcoming TPA? I can't deny that it influenced my decision. I've enjoyed the experience so far. It's been wonderful to have time during the instructional day to reflect and discuss. I don't think that's a prerequisite - Lisa Noble noted in the Twitter discussion that the particular attitude is common among some educators, that learning should not occur on their own time but that release time must be provided - but it can be nice when it happens. I'm learning quite a bit and having "courageous conversations". There are times where I feel discouraged and times where I feel inspired. It's reminded me that it's tough to be a student sometimes - sitting at a table for extended periods, attentively listening as best you can. Having said that, I don't regret taking the course. I've received some good resources (lots of books) and had some great discussions. The pair of photos were taken January 29 regarding reciprocity between mentor and protegee.

Although I like my AQ, I think the most powerful form of Professional Learning is the type you adopt for yourself. I realized this as I think back to what I wrote on the OCT survey about the most powerful or influential professional learning moments I've had - and I cited my four years working with GamingEdus and the wonderful, self-chosen PLN with Liam O'Donnell and Denise Colby. Thank you to everyone, from Karen & Jennifer leading my AQ, to Liam & Denise exploring through our TLLP, to Cal, Andrew & Lisa on Twitter, and everyone in between for pushing my professional learning, be it formal or informal, credited or self-directed.

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