Posts Tagged ‘professional development’

I attended a PD session today focusing on assessment for learning and assessment as learning.  It was in a format where our secondary teachers were split across two locations.  I have my own views of professional development, but I’m very thankful for our staff work to provide PD opportunities.  I know first hand how much time it takes, and also how challenging it can be to put forward a day that is helpful to as many people as possible.  It is a daunting task, and I am extremely grateful to have colleagues that continue to put in that effort.

I wanted to bring up a couple points.  The first is that in my opinion, large venues continue to be a problem for professional development days.  There are people who are critical of, and resistant  to the efforts and ideas expressed during the day.  John Maxwell writes about how 30% of a staff will resist efforts to initiate change.  Unfortunately, these people may not just resist changing themselves of their practice, but they actively (intentional or not,) detract others from making the most of the time during talk, session, or workshop.  I think a large venue, where voices carry,  exasperates this problem.  It was a shame today, when we were discussing formative assessment, that has been shown to double the speed of student learning.  I know the format of the day may not appeal to everyone, but how can you not try to improve your understanding of a research proven strategy to double the speed of student learning?  My message to myself is, “if you’re not doing this, you may be half as effective as other teachers.”  I’m glad to have been surrounded by others today that were eager to discuss these ideas and strategies to implement them.

Today, John Ryall from the Ontario Ministry of Education discussed how he could wish he could apologize to the students he taught during the first five years of his practice.  I know exactly how he feels and have expressed the same sentiment myself.  I found it affirming to know he feels this way as well.  I also think it demonstrates a willingness to be reflective and critical of one’s own growth.  I think that attitude may be vital to make the most of any PD opportunity.  It is a growth mindset that helps a person improve, rather than believe that a degree in education was all the experience needed to be a great teacher.




This is my first post regarding the Connectivism and Connected Learning  (CCK) course.  The course is a Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) facilitated by the Connectivist gurus Stephen Downes (@Downes) and George Siemens (@gsiemes).  It’s like learning about Math from Euler or Fermat.  You can find out more about the course if you want to jump in to the course, find out more about Connectivism, or what a MOOC is at

If you are reading this and you have never heard of Connectivism, please read about it first.

As I write this, I have just finished participating in my first live web session for CCK12.  I found the meeting helpful.  I have taken an online course before (but not a MOOC) and I think the meeting is useful to feel connected (see what I did there) to the course, its participants, and the facilitators.  It was also a chance to hear a bit of a different take on some of the explanations of Connectivism.  This was helpful since this week I have been reading a lot of posts, research, and opinions on Connenctivism, and to be honest it was a bit overwhelming.  This is not for a lack of explanation, but in my mind, the complexity of the topic.  If you combine that with a rusty knowledge and vocabulary of learning theories, you create your own tidal wave of reading and information.

One of the things in my own personal and professional development that has been great, is that just before Christmas I began reading The Connected Educator by Sheryl Nussbaul-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall.  I plan on writing a full review when I finish, but in the meantime, I can say that the the book is excellent.  Why I bring this up, is that the practices of teacher professional development (PD) explained in The Connected Educator flows nicely with a Connectivist view of learning.  I thought about writing that the CCK12 course and getting the book was serendipitous, but that is inaccurate.  These aren’t two events that happened both by chance.  By following along with the activities and suggestions in the book, I discovered the CCK12 course offering.  The book helps teachers to set up an network (infrastructure) of their own professional learning.  In a short time my own Personal Learning Network has expanded greatly, and its usefulness has increased exponentially.  Or perhaps more pragmatically, I can say that a PLN has become more than a education buzzword.  Having (started to have) read the book, it has given me a bit of grounding in reality in terms of what Connectivism is, as well as what it looks like, and how it is experienced.

My own experience with becoming more connected, and using that connectedness to drive my learning (or perhaps the lens from which to view), has been powerfully useful.  The understanding has been created within the network has already been more practically useful for my teaching practice than so many traditional professional development activities.  One of the things that Stephen brought up in the web meeting (that I will paraphrase) is that the learning: “Is not a magnification of the individuals knowledge.  It was created as though it is a crystallization of the group.  Not as if,  where adding more carbon makes it more carbon-y, but rather it crystallizes into something new.”

One thing that I look forward to is seeing how a deeper understanding of Connectivism can change my teaching practises.  It has certainly already changed my view of my own learning.  But that is quite different from shaping my teaching directly.  So my learning has been shaped by focusing on a connected development network by bringing in the collective experience of other educators, researchers, authors and experts. And my learning has begun to shape my teaching.   But that is my learning.  My learning is inherently self directed.  My student’s is not.  They have certain concepts that they have to learn under our current system.  If a student isn’t drawn to learning about Algebra, we can’t learn about butterflies.