I want to go to more PD!
The reality for teachers is that anytime you wish to access professional development opportunities, you need to leave your classroom. And guess what? Teachers don't want to leave the classroom, so they forgo PD opportunities. Such is the vicious circle. But the emergence of more online PD in various forms is offering new hope to busy teachers and educators in remote or regional areas.
I really like going to PD. I love to interact with other educators, share ideas and get inspired and refreshed about my classroom practice. I don't like leaving my classes, but sometimes the benefits are worth it in the long term. I hate doing PD on the weekend, because I also have a very important life where I spend time with my family and I like to get my hands dirty in the garden. There is not much PD on offer on the weekends anyway. Guess why? Because I am not the only one who likes to spend time with their families and get their hands dirty in the garden!
However, this year, I have made a concerted effort to attend more PD, even if it means sacrificing my own time. What I discovered is that there are some really amazing ways to connect with educators around the world, without leaving your home and without having to pay registrations fees! I thought I would share some of my discoveries (which are probably not real discoveries, but they are exciting nonetheless!)
- The Queensland History Teachers' Association is offering a series of webinars about ancient history. The best thing about these webinars is that they are open to anyone, not just teachers. There is a small fee to cover the delivery platform, but last week, I listened to Dr Serena Love discuss funerary practices in Ancient Egypt while sitting in my pyjamas at home!
- The Victorian History Teachers' Association offers a peer mentoring program - which can happen over skype! This is a great way for remote and regional teachers to make connections with urban teachers - or vice versa. There is so much educational expertise around this country, and this type of program is designed for beginner teachers to tap in to that.
- Twitter! There are some great Twitter conversations out there. I have been following one called EduTweetOz. Based on rotation curation, the account allows teachers to connect across the country without leaving their desk, or their couch. I have learned a lot about the issues faced by regional and remote teachers, indigenous education, primary educations, flipped classrooms and the list goes on. Pre-service teachers would benefit greatly from these conversations and many of the participants have eons of experience.
- Twitter conferences. As an ancient history teacher, I am pretty excited about the upcoming twitter conference about archaeology. #Archaeotweet2018 will happen in November, allowing presenters from around the country (and I think the globe!) to present via twitter. Once again, no joining fee, no travel, no leaving your classes behind. I can only imagine the connections and networks that will be established as a result of this conference. If you are interested, just search the hashtag.
- Facebook has some awesome groups - both closed and public. I have posted about this previously (see my post Resources for Ancient History students) but I really think the group platform is fantastic for sharing resources and having conversations that need to happen around timetabled classes, lunch duties and life. Queensland teachers - search for QHTA Connect and Share.
- MOOCS - massive open online courses. This is all about learning online - both for a fee and for free! Most of the world's universities participate in the MOOC program and there is a plethora of courses to choose from. Beside learning at your own pace to enhance your subject knowledge, you get the opportunity to connect with other people studying the same course. I have previously accessed courses at: FutureLearn and Coursera
Financing PD is certainly an issue for many teachers, especially for those in remote areas. By the time you factor in airfares, accommodation and conference fees, school administrators get nervous about the numbers behind the dollar sign. Not to mention the fact that you may have to be replaced for the time that you are absent from the classroom. I know that these factors mean many remote and regional teachers just don't go to PD - and PD seems not to go to them! Check out some of the options I have listed abopve and get back to me if there are any that you would like to share!