The most effective teachers don't just love to teach, they also love to learn. Unfortunately, this love of learning rarely translates into a love of professional development. But it doesn't have to be that way! We've got five tips to enhance your teaching through collaborative learning.
Teacher professional development gets a bad rap. A study by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation found that for most teachers, a lack of choice in PD options means that they are often stuck with offerings that are irrelevant, ineffective, and disconnected from their core work of helping students learn. In other words, a waste of time.
While personalized professional development is on the rise, many teachers remain hamstrung by a lack of choice in their own professional learning. In a quest for more opportunities for flexible, teacher-lead learning, knowledge thirsty educators are putting their heads together to create personal learning communities and networks built around their own needs.
Sounds appealing, right? But where to start? We have rounded up five great ways to supplement your PD by collaborating with other passionate educators, whether they are across the hall, across the country, or half-way around the world.
1. Invest in a Personal Learning Network (PLN)
Teaching can be a lonely profession. Educators spend the majority of their day with students, leaving little time for meaningful adult interaction. Over time, this isolation leads to low efficacy, less risk-taking, low performance, burnout, and high turnover. Like all professionals, educators need peer-to-peer interaction and reciprocal investment in order to learn, grow, and develop. Which is where Personal Learning Networks come in.
PLNs are online communities that promote social and collaborative learning. In addition to reducing isolation, PLNs provide a context for teachers to exchange information, experience, and expertise in a supportive environment that builds understanding and insight.
When developing your PLN, we recommend that you start with Twitter. Search for active educators on Twitter and follow them, as well as the people they follow. Our list of Routledge Eye On Education authors on Twitter is a great place to start. You can engage with other educators by asking a question, sharing a teaching resource, responding to other peoples’ tweets, or tweeting something personal that speaks to who you are.
But you don’t have to limit yourself to Twitter. Facebook, LinkedIn, education blogs, and discussion forums are other avenues to building your PLN. If it feels more comfortable, start with the online communities you’re already familiar with and build from there.
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