- Toolkit - one of the most exciting things, initially, is that we each were able to choose a toolkit from a catalog of different tech tools (Chromebooks, iPads, robots, cameras, etc). These tools are ours to use as we see fit throughout our time in the Cohort and beyond (if we stay in the district). As fun as it is to get new tools, the more meaningful thing is the support it shows for our growth and development. Having resources to enable us to implement some of our techy dreams is amazing!
- Freedom to play and explore - our catalog of tools had several things that I had never played with before. Building time into our professional development days to explore and play with the different options was crucial in making decisions about what would be the most helpful in my classroom! After we received the tools, we were given more time to play, share, and see what we could come up with through an EdCamp-style PD complete with playgrounds for all of our new "toys". "It's a robot party!" Thanks Beth #BVSD21cc Exploring Dash&Dot and Ollie w/ @Ms_A_Yeh @mdeckstein @MsKellyAnderson pic.twitter.com/QGI6zGQVlN— BVSD EdTech (@BVSDEdTech) February 16, 2017
- Attitude of a Learner - in our cohort, we are told over and over again that we are not supposed to have everything figured out or be experts right away. This takes so much pressure off! Especially in this first year, our goal is to learn, to grow, and to push ourselves. Many of the assignments we get are designed to introduce us to new tools (or increase our familiarity with old ones) by asking us to create something, much as our students might in the classroom. Our leaders have done a great job modeling the attitude of a learner, as well, by trying new things right alongside us!
- Time - this is a big one. As teachers, we never feel like we have enough time. Trying a new program or incorporating a new tech tool sounds awesome, but it takes time to plan! And with conferences, grades being due, and other looming deadlines, it is hard to make the time to do that. I have really appreciated that at each of our PD sessions, time is built in to explore new ideas, but also do decompress and synthesize what we have just learned. This helps me get even more out of it than if the day was jam-packed with new information, because I have a minute to process what this could mean for me and my class, making it much more likely for me to implement it in the future!
- Relationships - I was talking with a friend who was a part of Cohort 2.0, and she talked so much about the relationships that she developed as a part of the cohort. After the first day, I wasn't quite feeling that yet, but the more we get into this, the more I see a bond starting to grow. Being with a group of people who are not afraid to try new things, imagine different ideas, and share our experiences & knowledge is invigorating! Sometimes, in education, innovative ideas garner resistance from people who are happy with the way things have always been. Both the in-person PD and the connections on Twitter & social media have been encouraging simply because I'm around other people who share a similar vision of extending our classrooms beyond where they currently are. I know this will continue as we begin mentor groups and have more opportunities to collaborate and share our learning!
All of this has been so great for me as a teacher, but it has also been helpful as I prepare for a future in educational leadership. Thinking about what aspects of the PD have been most meaningful to me gives me insight into what I might design in the future as PD for my staff. The learning never ends!