For my EdTalk, I chose the topic of teacher professional development (PD) because good PD is invaluable to teachers and their success and their willingness to stay with the profession. This year is my fourteenth in education, and both formal and informal PD have helped me develop so much. While I have been lucky to find great PD experiences, many educators do not feel that PD helps them become better teachers. They do not find that district-provided PD supports their everyday work. (In my presentation, I reference data on this topic from The Mirage, a 2015 report from TNTP.) While some find PD transformative, many struggle to find it valuable, and they stay isolated with their teaching struggles. Two new innovations in teacher PD hope to change that mindset.
Twitter is a free social media platform that houses microblogging, or short status updates of 140 characters. The amount of teachers on Twitter seeking advice from each other has blossomed over the past few years. There are thousands of teachers in professional communities on Twitter. Some are informally following each other and posting updates from their classrooms. Other teachers get into groups and conduct Twitter chats during the week. For example, “#edchatma” is a Twitter chat for Massachusetts educators. Twitter is a great, free way for teachers to ask questions, share resources, and celebrate their work.
Another new PD development is the PD concept of edcamps. An edcamp is an “unconference.” The day starts with a blank grid. Participants fill that grid with ideas for sessions on Post-it notes. Once the schedule is complete, teachers head to sessions where they learn about the topics they posted. Anyone is invited to edcamps, even students and community members. People who attend are welcome to attend any sessions they want and move to different sessions if they want to. Sponsors provide free food and door prizes. I would invite all educators to attend an edcamp and see how this style of PD can engage them and make them interested in PD again. Learn more at www.edcamp.org.
Both Twitter and edcamps have made me excited to take ownership of my own PD needs and find colleagues from around Boston and around the world that push my thinking and help me improve my practice. Please feel free to get in touch with me at email@example.com or @abbeydick
About the Author: Abbey Dick, teaches AP Language and co-teaches sophomore English classes at Malden High School. She is interested in curriculum, assessment, professional development, and teaching writing and nonfiction texts. She also leads and organizes edcamp Malden. Her blog is http://morecoreela.blogspot.com/ and she also cofounded a Twitter chat for AP Language teachers, #aplang.