Some thoughts about self-directed professional learning

EdSurge has shown how teachers are "brewing their own" PD

First off, I have to say that the irony of completing of this “first” post on the subject of self-directed professional learning, exactly one year after promising myself that I would begin to reflect in writing as part of my own self-directed professional learning is absolutely not lost on me. Alas, here we are. Well into 2016, and I’m back with a renewed commitment to myself and my own learning.

This school year, many of the teachers who I work with have reported that they’ve sought more opportunities than usual to focus their professional learning on self-directed pursuits. While work action and contract negotiations have contributed to fewer PD sessions offered by school boards, I’m not convinced that can be cited as the sole reason for the uptick in preference for self-directed professional learning. Much has been written on current trends in teacher professional learning, but I especially like how EdSurge has visually represented it.

I’ve been hearing a lot of feedback from colleagues that they are finding engaging in self-directed professional learning and expanding their own networks to be particularly helpful in answering their questions and transforming their classroom practice to meet student needs as well as their own learning goals – more so than system-PD ever has. So what does this mean for me? I too wax poetic about the learning and satisfaction I get from so-called new-age, networked professional learning, so am I talking myself out of my own job as a professional learning leader in my district?

I’ve been trying to digest it and think about how system- or Ministry PD fits into the equation. How do self-directed and system-led PD come together to form a professional learning picture that works for teachers?

More to come as I think on and explore this subject…

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2 thoughts on “Some thoughts about self-directed professional learning”

  1. Thanks for sharing this post. I think self directed has a lot to do with just in time learning and PL on your own schedule. Sometime I have a challenge learning in noisy, uncomfortable environments. Sometimes I learn better in pjs with an iPad and sometimes a webinar with colleagues is perfect. Sometimes the topic is not where I am at or not relevant to current projects, learning goals or the environment. Blogging is hard, but a great way to share learning, spark reflective conversation, thank you Andrea.

    1. Thanks for your comments Lisa! I agree that the “just in time” element of self-directed PL is key. If I’m not ready to use a resource/strategy/etc or think about a certain idea right away as it applies to my own practice, then chances are the learning isn’t going to be the most meaningful for me. That’s not to say it’s completely meaningless though either. I often find myself attending a webinar on a topic that I am interested in, and then perhaps moving on and not applying much initially, but then circling back to dig deeper, learn more, play and apply my learning at the moment when I am ready. So the webinar kind of serves as a nice little “low-commitment” entry point for me. From there, based on the information introduced and the resources provided I can choose to go further at my own pace or connect up with others who are intersted in learning more. Definitely enjoying being the driver of my own learning these days!

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