Saturday, 3 October 2015

Can you measure the effectiveness of Professional Development?

I was fortunate to attend the 3-day ACEL conference in Sydney thanks to generosity of my school. I was really looking forward to this, as I thought it would be the highlight of my holidays. And it was! I’m not going provide my thoughts on all presentations or workshops but here are the storifies from Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3.

I’ve been thinking about the direction professional development is heading...TeachMeets, Edcamps, Twitter. I’m reflecting on Alma Harris’s presentation when she stated, “You have everything you need within your system”. I wonder if we have everything we need within our schools or between all of our schools? How has professional development changed over the last few years and where will it be in the next few years? Do we need to physically come together to learn and connect? Some people get their energy from being quiet and in solitude. I love being around people as it energises me. It always has. What are the professional benefits of PDs and how would its effectiveness be measured? I do think there are personal benefits of attending an event like #acelconf2015.

"Hello"- I got to finally meet many of those I’ve connected with on Twitter face to face. While some I had met before, many were for the first time. I was able to thank David Ivers personally for helping with my Harvard application. Meeting wonderful educators face to face made the conference so much richer. Some of the awesome educators I met are listed so you can build your PLN with more inspiring educators. Thanks all for making the event even better!


"Thank you"- I got to personally thank Alma Harris, Andy Hargreaves and Yong Zhao for being guest moderators on #satchatoc. These generous educators are so giving of their time, knowledge and advice. I also got to spend time just chatting with them. Would I have been confident enough to go and introduce myself before I connected with them on Twitter? I’m not sure, but I did introduce myself to Michael Fullan... although Andy continued the introduction. I enjoyed spending time with Yong as we talked about my children, education and the future (with a few laughs as well). It was great meeting Alma who was instrumental in the Women in Educational Leadership chat. Listening and learning from Alma was definitely a highlight and I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to speak with her.

Connecting & Networking- So we all know the benefits of connecting, as you are most likely reading this via Twitter. Twitter & connecting go hand in hand although some are more comfortable lurking on Twitter. Networking is interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. Meeting people face to face not only makes it easier to connect but you can also have deeper conversations about topics of mutual interest. Sometimes you feel that connection straight away. The next time someone asks how do you find the time to connect on Twitter, I will share how I've grown both personally and professionally and how my students benefit.

Grateful- I am so grateful for the relationships I’ve developed with educators and the friendships I’ve made. It was very humbling to receive the Keith Tronc Award and I'm very grateful to ACEL for this recognition. My daughter noticed I got a little overwhelmed while Dr Tronc made his moving speech. I was also amazed by the number of congratulatory tweets and postings on Facebook. Thank you! When I was a beginning teacher in Marin County, I remember seeing in the paper a teacher receiving an award. I thought how awesome it would be to win that award as it would confirm that I was doing a good job and that my students were benefitting from my efforts. As a beginning teacher, I needed others approval. I remember I had my daughter film me on a flip camera, so I could analyse my own teaching. I think this is why I enjoy working with beginning teachers as they need to know they are doing a good job and have their feelings validated. It was also inspiring to see ACEL support emerging voices in educational leadership by awarding the 'New Voice Scholarships'. I think we need to support new teachers and new leaders. While the goal to recognise teachers as professionals like doctors and lawyers is wonderful, all the teachers I've met aren’t in it for the money or recognition. We are all here for the students and that for me, makes all teachers 'superheroes'.