Professional Development

LIBE 477 Professional Development: A Personal Summary

This week’s post represents a summary of learning around PLN’s, Information Literacy, Learning Commons, 21st Century Learning, and Professional Development related to my teacher-librarianship diploma course LIBE 477.

What are your key takeaways, learning and direction after all this exploration?

I have several takeaways from this series of blog postings both from my own personal reflections and also from the ideas and experiences of my peers in this course.  These last few weeks have reinforced my existing thoughts on professional development – A connected educator is a stronger educator. Through the use of digital technologies, it is now easier than ever to find and connect with like-minded people. I have found that technology continues to play an interesting and exciting part of the role of teachers and teacher-librarians. For example, I am interested in and fascinated by the potential of virtual and augmented reality in schools. These new educational tools allow students to experience learning in ways that didn’t exist before.  Imagine walking among dinosaurs to get an idea of how large they were. Amy’s post on Developing ICT Skills and Pedagogy: Hands-On Learning & Networking introduced me to Microsoft’s CoSpaces for Education.     

For those who are not connected, there is no need to panic, as it appears that many of the school districts in British Columbia are providing inquiry learning opportunities for their staff in the form of after school learning groups.  Schools are getting better at providing and funding opportunities for staff to develop their craft.  

What are the new avenues for development in your personal and professional practice?

There are so many areas of my practice that I’m interested in and would like to develop.  Currently, I am inquisitive about the #storystudio and #looseparts storytelling story writing movement.  I think that the library is the perfect place for the loose parts materials and could be used across the grades in my k-5 school.  It would connect well with the kindergarten and grade 2 prep classes that I teach and it aligns well with my philosophy on play. I don’t know much about it right now, but the TLs in my district are looking to set up a workshop to better understand how it fits within a library learning commons.

I found this article from the UBC journal of Transformative Educational Leadership on the topic of Story Studios very helpful.

A quick Twitter search for #storystudio and #looseparts also provided useful information on what it can look like in the classroom.

What are you going to take with you, moving forward from your own explorations and also from the explorations of others in this class?

Moving forward, I would like to continue to deepen my understanding and application of connections-based learning.  I recently joined a Voxer group on the topic and I am enjoying the voice conversations we are having.  I would love to set up an unofficial Voxer community for those in the Teacher-Librarianship diploma, certificate and Masters program at UBC. I would find the dialogue to be especially powerful. 

Connections-based learning fits nicely into a library learning commons because libraries tend to be the technological hub of many schools. As most students use the library, funding requests are seen as a benefit to the school rather than an individual ‘techie’ classroom teacher. 

Connections-based learning can create opportunities for students to reach outside of the four walls of the school and connect with experts, which can be used to motivate and inspire our youth. Connections-based learning is not without its challenges. Technology can occasionally fail and if one is seeking live, synchronous communication, then time zones can be problematic. Asynchronous opportunities also exist using platforms like Flipgrid, Padlet, Cloud-based productivity tools like G Suite for Education and Office 365, as well as platforms such as Belouga.  Connections-based learning can create meaningful and authentic learning experiences in a connected world by connected students. 

I have just set up a spreadsheet that I plan to leave open for myself and others to add contact information for excellent connection-based-learning activities and experts.

When I think about what I am going to take away from the advice shared by my peers in this course, it has to be the act of continuing to build relationships with educators locally and globally.  So many of the posts I read over the last four weeks expressed how critically important it is to build with, and on, the ideas of others. Teaching can be a lonely and isolating profession, especially if one is not social outgoing or confident in their practice.  Collaboration involves being vulnerable and being vulnerable can be difficult for countless reasons. I am not particularly outgoing and often find it difficult to collaborate, so I first try to find one person to collaborate with. I then focus on developing a positive collaborative experience, which will then hopefully spread to others in my school.  

If you could pick just one topic from Phase 2 that resonated with you, which is it and why?

One exploration that touched my heart over the last four weeks and one that aligns with my passion for social justice was the brief inquiry we conducted on libraries in developing nations.  We acknowledge that in developed nations libraries are important in the development of critical literacy skills but in developing nations libraries save people’s lives (Borgonovi et al., 2018). Libraries may be the only way information is disseminated in a village or a community.  In developing nations, libraries are creating tools and resources targeted to help vulnerable sections of the population. They are beacons of hope, inclusivity, and community spirit!

References:

Borgonovi, F., Centurelli, R., Dernis, H., Grundke, R., Horvát, P., Jamet, S., … Squicciarini, M. (2018). Bridging the Digital Gender Divide. Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/internet/bridging-the-digital-gender-divide.pdf

D’Aoust, C. (2018). Story Studios. Transformative Educational Leadership Journal, (November 2018). Retrieved from https://teljournal.educ.ubc.ca/2018/11/story-studios/

Loudon, A. (2019, October 11). Retrieved from https://mylearninglibrarian.blogspot.com/2019/10/v-behaviorurldefaultvmlo_11.html

Developing One’s ICT Skills and Pedagogy

This week’s inquiry post associated with my teacher-librarianship diploma explores pedagogy, ICT, and professional development as an elementary school educator.  I’ll also discuss some of the strategies, tools, resources and networks I use to deepen my understanding and knowledge of my new as a teacher-librarian.

Power of Mentorship
I am lucky because teacher-librarians in my school district have a long-established culture of collaboration. As teacher librarians, we meet bi-monthly to discuss a variety of issues and share our successes. Each meeting is held in a different library in the district so it also presents a unique opportunity to check out someone else’s library for inspiration. In addition, my district also offers mentor/mentee opportunities for anyone who is looking for support. I have just taken advantage of this service and I look forward to spending time with my vastly experienced TL mentor. One of the first things I plan to do is invite him into my library to critically evaluate the collection and suggest where I should be focusing my energy, as I look to improve the collection.

Professional Development
I believe that professional development is a personal endeavour and can be a frustrating experience if you leave it up to someone else to plan, organize, and direct. It has never been easier to tailor professional development to suits one’s needs. I’m excited to attend my first British Columbia Teacher-Librarians’ Association (BCTLA) conference later this month. I am looking forward to the two sessions I signed up for, a discussion group on the topic of media and digital literacy, and a session in the afternoon title, Starting Strong – Strategies and Support for New Teacher-Librarians.

The Power of Social Networks
Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have been influential in my development as an educator, and as I am a bit of an introvert these platforms have enabled me to make connections with people I wouldn’t normally have connected with.

A recent example of the power of social networking that comes to mind occurred at the end of the last school year. In the closing months of the 2018-2019 school year, I secured my first teacher-librarian position. I knew that I would have to negotiate a very steep learning curve, so in preparation, I tried to anticipate some of the questions I would need answering and started to write them down. I then compiled them into a Google Form and shared it with the rest of my colleagues in my district. They were more than happy to offer insight, but I felt like I needed to hear from more people, so I shared the form on some of my preferred social networks using hashtags such as #teacherlibrarian #teacherlibrarianlife

I use social media as a tool to deepen my understanding of my role, strengthen my instructional practice, share my learning, and reach out for help. Primarily, I use Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. I am most comfortable with Twitter because I have been using it for quite some time and understand it more than the others mentioned, but I’ve shifted to Instagram lately, especially when checking out other people’s book reviews. I have bought plenty of books of my own based on Instagram book reviews and I’m sure I’ll use it just as much when I order books for my library. I follow many libraries and librarians, as well as those directly and loosely connected to education. Some of my favourites include:

https://www.instagram.com/kidsbookcentre

ICT

There are many digital tools I access that help me be more efficient in my job.  Both at work and at home I use cloud-based productivity tools like GSuite for Education and Office 365.  I prefer the Google product, as I find it simpler to use but at work, I have to use Office 365.  If and when I stumble across something online that I want to use at a later date I use the social bookmarking app, Pocket.  I like that I can save, categorizing and curate my links.  When I’m sharing links I like URL shorteners especially when I’m working with students as they are easier to remember.  I usually use bit.ly for shortening my URLs but there so many to choose from.     

One area of ICT I’d like to utilize more is that of Connections Based Learning and virtual field trips. 

We now have the digital tools to take advantage of these opportunities to connect students to their passions outside the walls of the school and beyond geographical boundaries.  My goal this year is to encourage my admin to invest in the hardware to make connections based learning a powerful tool.  

Summary

We live in a time when educators can take full control of their professional development.  Educators need no longer wait for their school districts to offer something that aligns their needs and pedagogy.  Instead, they can harness the power of ICT by using tools like Twitter, MOOCs, and Open learning platforms such as Coursera and OpenEdx. Ultimately, maintaining a practice of self-reflection is critical in order to determine one’s needs before thinking about professional development.

21st Century Professional Development: Edcamp Fraser Valley

If you are a new teacher, veteran teacher, parent, student, administrator, or hold a job directly/indirectly related to the education profession, edcamps offer an alternative to traditional professional development opportunities.

Edcamps are modelled after Barcamps.  Barcamps are user-generated conferences hosted by programmers, open-source developers, and techno-geeks, and are designed to develop new skills, share best practices and maintain an open dialogue about the development of the computer industry.  Edcamp was started by a group of dedicated educators, in Philadelphia, USA who saw a need to improve traditional professional development, and who saw the opportunity, and need, for an unconference model in education.

Edcamps are now offered in every major city in North America as well as England and other countries in Europe.  This December an edcamp, Edcamp Fraser Valley (edcampfv), is being offered close to where I teach and I’m excited to be part of it.  Chris Wejr organized Edcampfv with help from David Wees and Grant Frend and a  small group of volunteers.  Here are the details:

What is the format of an Edcamp?:

Edcamps try to capture the best features of traditional professional workshops, which tends to be the conversations that pop up in the workshop itself, or the conversations between educators at lunch or between sessions.  With that in mind, an edcamp can best be described as a gathering of individuals with strong interests in the field of education with the intention of exchanging ideas, sharing their experiences, and learning from others in a hierarchy free setting.  Everyone has a voice in an Edcamp!  There are no expensive keynote speakers, no preset workshops, and no cost.

On the morning of the event, all attendees have the option to lead a discussion by placing their name and the topic of their discussion on a large board for all attendees to view.  Once all discussion topics have been displayed, attends vote on which discussions they would like to contribute to and attended.  Once the discussion begins, others are actively encouraged to contribute and share their experiences in order to maintain or move the discussion forward in way that the groups sees fit.  Best of all, if the discussion doesn’t suit your needs, just move to the next one.  No one will judge you to be impolite.

Who can attend?:

Anyone with strong interest in the education professional.  For example, teachers, support staff, administrators, school board employees, parents, students, etc…

Professional Development Ideas for 21st Century Teaching

Does your school offer the professional development you’re need?

Recently I worked with my Twitter PLN on the topic of professional development.  Directly after the Tuesday Edchat session we worked on a document together, describing the kind of professional development opportunities we wished our schools districts offered.  We also discussed how we could developed our own in the interim.

Here’s a list of my favourite professional development opportunities I wished my district offered:

Personally, this type of collaborative effort excites me as an educator.  I would ultimately like to master my craft (education) and I feel like I move one step closer every time I connect with fellow educators from around the globe.

Many thanks to #Edchat, my PLN, the following educators – @actionhero, @missbartel, @21stcenturychem, @DrTimony, @cybraryman1, @davidwees, and everyone else who contributed to the document: http://bit.ly/aFuWAd

Virtual Professional Development (VPD)

Since immersing myself in the Twitterverse I’ve developed an educational voice and have been exposed to a wide array of Virtual Professional Development (VPD) opportunities.  If the right professional development opportunities are not offered at the right time in your school district, then the following post will be of significant importance to your development as an educator.  What I like most about Virtual Professional Development (VPD) is the freedom to choose exactly what I’d like to learn about.

VPD’s come in a variety of forms including email distribution,  webinar’s (web conference usually one way conversation, from speaker to audience), and webcast’s (webcast’s allow for collaborative participation through interactive video, audio, and chat.  Communication is often two-way)

Literally there are VPD’s happening every night of the week somewhere in North America, covering a variety of topics from “Setting Up A Classroom Blog”, “A Fresh Look at Teaching The Diary of Anne Frank,” to “Learning How To Use The Latest Web2.0 Tools.”  I’d like to share a couple of recurring VPD’s I attend regularly with you today in the hope you’ll take the time to check them out and finally work professional development around your schedule instead of scheduling your life around professional development:

1. #edchat on Twitter – occurs every Tuesday at 9am and 4pm (PST)  Topics include; improving student engagement, creating a culture of learning in the classroom, and best practices around assessment.  More information about #edchat can be found at the #edchat wiki

2. Classroom 2.0 Ning offers VPD on Saturday morning sessions as well as the occasional work-week session.  Topics include,  author webinar’s, preparing effective online learners, and Earthcast 2010.

3. The Future of Education Ning offers VPD mainly on Wednesday’s starting at 5pm (PST).  View calendar here  Topics include, Think Global School, Networks, Communities, and Role of Facilitator, and Neuroscience of Learning.

4. EdTechTalk is a collaborative open webcasting community.  Webcasts primarily take place on Tuesday through Friday and Sunday’s at 4pm (PST) Topics include, 21st Century Learning, Teachers Teaching Teachers, and Instructional Design.  View calendar here.

5. Learn Central is also a popular provider of VPD for educators.  Register for a free account and start to connect with other educators.

An extensive calendar of VPD events can be viewed here:  Events

For those who use Google calendar, all these events are easier imported into your existing calendar with once click.  It makes the job of keeping track of upcoming events easier and also you to share the information with others in your personal learning network (PLN).

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