Many of us are past masters of the juggling skills required at a conference to sip a coffee, exchange email addresses with a new colleague, listen to a speaker and finish off marking an assessment task all at the one time. We don’t need to be told that it is important to keep ourselves current so we can perform at our best and ensure our teaching practice is contemporary and relevant.
What we aren’t always so good at is finding new and exciting ways to take on ways of thinking that can really make a difference to our teaching or can be the key to reaching that certain child who has been a mystery to us for so long.
These days, there are so many opportunities for professional development it can be difficult to decide what is the most useful and important to undertake! Do you go to the conference interstate and take advantage of the chance to network outside your own area or stick with the tried and true after school PD opportunities that are closer to home? If neither of these seem appealing, is it perhaps time to consider some other options?
Twitter and Linked In both provide the chance to build a professional learning network which includes people from all around the world, and with regular chats and meet ups on various topics available on Twitter it is easy to find people who can offer you new ways of thinking and new ideas from outside your immediate circle of colleagues.
Group chats can take a while to get used to, as they are fast and furious and require a reasonable working knowledge of tools and the ability to crystalise your thoughts into 144 characters or less, with associated hashtags. Once you experience a really good quality Twitter chat, you are unlikely to turn back; instead you are far more likely to find your diary is carefully marked with the date and time of the next chat so you can store up your ideas for the coming week’s topic.
Reflection journals can be another wonderful way of learning, but with the unique feature of encouraging you to learn from yourself. Reflection journals simply involve recording your ideas, thoughts and memories of the day or week into a journal. You can adopt any form you like, with some people preferring a straight diary approach while others become wildly creative, including pictures, photos or real objects in the pages of their journal. And the best part of a reflection journal is that you never need to worry about spelling, grammar or punctuation as the words you share within the pages of your journal are for your eyes only.
Reflection journals are a time to think back and consider what has happened, how you responded, what other options you had in a situation and how your choices at work affect yourself and your learners.