Sunday, August 14, 2016

Does Your PD Have These 5 Essential Qualities?

Innovative educators aren't born, they're formed and one way that happens is by participating in and providing excellent learning opportunities. This means knowing what mistakes to avoid and being part of experiences that are more than the outdated “sit and git” lecture. And, it’s not just a preference. As reported in EdSurge, research supports this belief. Innovative educators and those who learn with and from them value learning that has the following five qualities:
  1. Relevant
  2. Interactive
  3. Delivered by someone who understands their experience
  4. Sustained over time
  5. Treats teachers like professionals

As connected educators, we appreciate places where we can build our teaching skills and share the best ideas to address classroom challenges. That’s why you’ll be excited to check out a cool site I’ve recently started using called Bloomboard. It does all that and it’s FREE to educators. In short, it supports educators with just-in-time professional learning driven by their needs and interests. It also aligns with the 5 qualities innovative educators identify as key to successful learning.


1) Relevant: Looking for resources aligned to your learning goals, needs, and interests? Bloomboard has more than 10,000 resources to help you improve your practice, no matter your subject or grade, searchable by topic. Educators organize the resources into collections (sort of an educator Pinterest board) which are designed to help you understand and apply information about a specific topic. Some collections I’ve enjoyed purusing include Maintain Professional Happiness  (including the most comfy shoes for back to school) and, of course, Technology. I’m checking out this 6-item collection on ways to use Snapchat in the Classroom. You can see what I’m doing on Snapchat by adding InnovativeEdu as a friend.

Each collection offers a mix of resources, to provide you with a complete understanding of the topic and a way to implement learning in your classroom.

Snapchat in the Classroom

Engaging students is key, right? Teachers are naming Snapchat Public Enemy #1 as far as distractions are concerned, leading them to the conclusion if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Like Twitter and Instagram that came before it, educators are finding inventive ways to use Snapchat in the classroom.
2) Interactive: The collections are alive! Discover and engage in meaningful discussions with those who have created or are using the collections. Meet new members of your personal learning network or invite existing ones to join you in exploring and discussing professional interests, challenges, and successes.

3) Delivered by Someone who Understands their Experience: Collections are created, vetted and curated by educators with expertise around specific topics. Educators can even create their own collections and share with others who can benefit from their expertise. It’s a terrific way to pull together and always find the best resources about topics of interest. What’s more is those who create their own collections receive the help of Bloomboard’s editorial team, who provides support, guidance, previews materials, and provides feedback as necessary before publication.


4) Sustained Over Time:  Educators can explore resources anytime, when they need it. They can also build their portfolio as they grow, saving recommended collections, helpful resources, and evidence that demonstrates how they applied learning into practice.


5) Treats Teachers Like Professionals:  Not only can educators showcase their expertise by creating collections, but they can also apply for and earn micro-credentials that provide a way to gain validated recognition for the skills and competencies earned throughout their career. These credentials can set you apart from the rest when looking for career opportunities. When you earn them, they are terrific to place on your resume, LinkedIn profile, email signature, and even Twitter profile [(like this one from Eileen Lennon) (here's how she did it)].  Additionally some progressive districts are awarding educators credit hours for earned micro-credentials. Check to see if this is the case where you work. If it isn’t, don’t stop there. Help drive the change to recognizing relevant learning experiences and push your school or district to update the ways they allow educators to demonstrate learning.


So what do you think? Do you agree that these qualities are essential? Anything missing? Does the PD you attend or deliver contain these five qualities? If not, what's missing and how could you modify?
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You can check out Bloomboard at https://bloomboard.com. While you’re there, explore some collections around topics you’re focusing on this year, share some with your PLN, join the conversation by participating in a discussion, or create your own collection.
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