by Mike Fisher
Professional learning, even 15 years into the 21st Century, still tends to lean toward a “one size fits all” model. Educators go to workshops, participate in local PD, or read professional books. While the information gained may be valuable, it isn’t always completely relevant to contemporary teachers who need solutions and actions that are just in time rather than just in case.
One way to approach just in time professional learning and to get connected to other educators that care about the same issues you care about is to start reading and writing blogs. Blogs represent an opportunity for educators to not only connect to others and but also to personalize their professional development based on what is relevant and specific to their instructional practices and professional needs.
Blogging represents opportunities to start conversations, share professional stories, share new ideas, take a stand on an issue, or carve out a professional niche. When you write blogs, you share unique perspectives on your experiences. When you read blogs, you discover unique ways to improve your professional practice. When you respond to blogs you’ve read or interact with respondents on blogs you wrote, you open up a whole new world of professional communication and collaboration opportunities.
Reading, Writing, and Responding to blogs leads to conversations, other writings and professional resources, and sometimes, even real life meetings. This level of connectivity isn’t dependent on anything external that one might have to wait on: published books, future scheduled workshops, year-end assessment data, etc. You only need a little bit of time and a device to plug into this already available network.
If you’re looking to get started with professional learning through reading blogs that are relevant to your interests or subject areas, look to ASCD EDge, Jerry Blumengarten’s CybraryMan Resources, Smartblogs on Education, TeachThought, Teach100, and Curriculum 21’s Clearinghouse. You could also consider writing your own blog using a variety of services: Blogger, Wordpress, Edublogs, or ASCD EDge.
Reading and writing blogs gives educators fresh opportunities for relevant information and connections to other professionals who have similar interests. As we begin Connected Educator Month, blogs are a wonderful way to connect, interact, learn, and share as a Networked Contemporary Educator.
Download a free copy of Mike Fisher’s book, Digital Learning Strategies: How do I assign and assess 21st century work?, courtesy of Mike and ASCD as a limited-time offer for Connected Educator Month (CEM) 2015. ASCD is leading the CEM theme, “Innovations in Professional Learning,” and will be sharing free and discounted resources all month.
Mike Fisher is a former teacher who is now a full-time author, consultant, and instructional coach. He is the author of Digital Learning Strategies: How do I assign and assess 21st Century Work? and the co-author of Upgrade Your Curriculum: Practical Ways to Transform Units and Engage Students, both published by ASCD. He works with schools around the country, helping to sustain curriculum upgrades, design curriculum, and modernize instruction in immersive technology. His website is The Digigogy Collaborative and he can also be found on Twitter as @fisher1000