Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Professional Learning: Take on the challenge of time!

Reflecting on my time at the WEMTA Conference recently, one theme was consistently raised by many presenters from districts across the state: the constraints of time on educators.

Results from many surveys, conversations, and meetings in our district have echoed the same theme: Finding adequate time for professional learning is a challenge.

We all feel it.  Every one of us.  There is so much to learn, so much that is changing, and so much that we can improve upon.  As a result we feel the pressure to learn it all, and to learn it soon!  That is a badge to our credit -- it means we are lifetime learners and we are committed to a growth mindset.  We should model that for our students and make them aware of it at every opportunity.  Our students need to see us as learners; we can give them this gift by modeling what it means to be a lifetime learner.

However, the challenge still exists.  Where do we find the time to learn what we need to while still maintaining a sane professional and healthy personal life?

The beauty of living in the digital age is that we can use the tools and resources around us to make something that was previously difficult, now possible.  

  • Learning now can take place on demand.  
  • Learning now can take place from home.  
  • Learning now can be custom tailored to our unique needs and interests by finding the appropriate offerings and resources (there are thousands).

There will never be enough time during the work day to get the direct instruction necessary to keep pace with the professional learning we need to do (especially as it relates to the use of educational technology tools).  This is not unique to Waukesha.  As I said earlier, this sentiment was echoed by people of varying positions from varying districts across the state.  

Something I did hear from many of those professionals is that they have found ways to grow professionally despite the challenges of time.  And yes, it has meant a commitment to doing so outside of the bell-to-bell school day.

As we look at warmer weather and a bit of non-student time ahead (let's not pretend our work ceases in the summer, but our daily direct connection to students lessens), here are some resources and opportunities you may want to put on your calendar to help facilitate your professional growth (specifically as it relates to instruction and the role technology can play).  You'll notice that both face-to-face and virtual opportunities exist.  (For many of us personal connections are still a necessity!)

Virtual - Live


  • Google Education on Air - May 8 - 9 (Registration Required)
    • This free online conference has sessions for every level, every subject, and every position (admin track, teacher track, IT track, anybody track) and brings together some of the most visible, noted, and interesting presenters to share what is happening in their classrooms (and how Google Apps supports that work).


Face-to-Face 



  • Ed Camp Milwaukee - May 9 (Registration Required)
    • This free (no, seriously, it is TOTALLY free) unconference brings together educators across SE Wisconsin to share and learn from each other.  Participants are encouraged to come with an idea for a session to lead or share in a full day of learning.  Sessions can explore anything related to education.  

Virtual - Recorded

  • Blackboard K-12 Bits Webinar Series
    • This series of webinars covers a wide range of topics related to Blackboard's wide range of instructional uses. Get great ideas that you can play with in your own Blackboard course.
  • SDW Bb9 - Instructional Strategies course
    • Log in to Bb9 and enroll in the instructional strategies course.  There you will find a tab called Vanguard Professional Development Workshops.  Get recordings of the same PD webinars on the core apps, Blackboard, and Google Apps that your Vanguard team has had access to.  PD tailored to the tools you and your students have access to.
  • SDW YouTube Playlists for Tech Integration
    • There is a lot of content on YouTube.  At times it can be difficult to sift through.  Let the SDW Tech Coordinator team do the lifting and sorting for you.  Here you will find our curated playlists for a wide variety of topics:
    • If you subscribe you will receive notifications of newly posted videos that may solve your technology woes or give you new ideas.