Personalized Learning - the new PD (Steve Guditus @sguditus)

After three years as a middle school assistant principal, I am heading to a new gig in three weeks - to become the principal of Manchester-Essex Regional Middle School.  I am super pumped, and as I start to make my transition, I am taking some time to reflect upon lessons learned about PD while I was an assistant principal.  After participating in a lively #satchat on June 8, 2013, I feel inspired to crystallize what effective PD 2.0 looks like.  I look forward to shaping opportunities for adults to learn effectively and with purpose - all in the name of student learning.

A few conclusions about PD effectiveness:
  1. Time is key.  If we want enact change in schools and bring about movement, we mustn't just provide a quick overview.  Time in schools is the most valuable resource, and how we choose to divide it up matters.  If we want not just understanding, but implementation and effectiveness, protect time, focused on your topic: provide time for exploration, discussion, debate, ongoing discussion, time to play and muck around, time to implement, time to revise. 
  2. It's all about attitude!  Being a lifelong learner is an attitude, not a reflection of age of birth or experience.  Leaders must model lifelong learning - and be willing share successes and failures.  Leaders must do what it takes to sustain lifelong learning and model it for staff.   
  3. Shift from PD to PL.  Staff learning should not be a "one shot deal" that happens one a month.  Shift your paradigm from PD (professional development) to PL (personalized learning), and continue it outside of formal sessions.  Educators are learners by trade - so continue to explore, take risks, goof up, and share your experience with fellow educators - on an ongoing basis.  
  4. Rely on technology can continue the conversation.  Set up your staff to succeed at sustaining the conversation, learning and thinking after (and during) formal PL sessions.  Backchannels are an outstanding tool to do so during and afterwards.  Consider Storify, Today's Meetup, Google+, Twitter, Edmodo or Ning to name a few.  Provide on-demand learning in the form of podcasts, Twitter feed or iTunesU.
  5. Consider an #edcamp!  The #edcamp model, by design, is differentiated by interest and readiness level.  This model provides leadership opportunities for teachers, is interest-based and maximizes engagement of all staff members.  For more information or to participate in an edcamp near you, go to: http://edcamp.wikispaces.com/
  6. Learn together.  Administrators should be there, front and center, learning alongside students, teachers and other community members.  If we are to revolutionize how we approach adult learning in schools and shift from formal professional development sessions to ongoing, personalized learning, administrators must lead the way by learning together with their community - together.
  7. Differentiate PL for staff members.  Just as we expect staff to differentiate their instruction to meet students where they are, we should differentiate our PL for staff by meeting them where they are at.  One size does not fit all.  Don't get me wrong: there is a time and a place for common experiences, but how it is implemented or how much scaffolding folks need to be successful will vary from learner to learner - just like in the classroom.
The following video, from the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, sums up (and inspires) things nicely:


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