New year’s resolution? Earn SCECHs for reading blogs, listening to podcasts, and participating in Twitter chats

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Teachers, I’d like to introduce you to my new friend, 2019.

We’ve just met, but I have the feeling we’re going to get along splendidly.

Here’s one way you and 2019 can do the same:

By tackling your new year’s teaching resolutions.

Are there practices you’d like to start doing, stop doing, or keep doing in your classroom in 2019?

How are you planning to tackle these resolutions?

There are so many ways that educators learn how to improve their teaching.

You could, for example:

  • Attend formal professional development sessions
  • Exchange ideas with a colleague/mentor
  • Read pedagogical books or articles
  • Explore online resources
  • Listen to podcasts
  • Watch YouTube videos
  • Participate in Twitter chats within the educational community

The list goes on.

A rule of thumb in the world of professional learning and development is the 70-20-10 rule. It goes something like this:

  • 70% of your learning comes from on-the-job experience
  • 20% of your learning comes from your relationships with others
  • 10% of your learning comes from formal training courses

This heuristic has received criticism for relying on arbitrary percentages, but the general principle remains largely unchallenged:

A significant part of our learning happens outside of the umbrella of what we formally consider “professional development.”

That’s why we believe you deserve to earn SCECHs for your informal learning efforts.

Your on-the-job and informal learning experiences are highly valuable, offering you insight into issues directly related to the needs of your students.

Wherever you are with your new year’s teaching resolutions, we want to let you know about MyPD, a new online course we’ve designed that gives you the opportunity to:

  • Define your problems of practice
  • Create your own learning plan that addresses these problems
  • Receive feedback from our professional learning specialists
  • Earn SCECHs for your informal learning efforts.

The problems with our current PD model

As a state, we agree educator training is important. That’s why we funnel so much time, energy, and money into ensuring our educators are up to date on the latest findings in educational research.

The problems with our current system?

First of all, most of our current professional development offerings rely heavily on “sit and get” pedagogy. Educators lose precious time in their classrooms and spend a great deal of time and money traveling (sometimes across the state) to join other educators for lecture-based training sessions.

But the truth is:

Research suggests that adult learners do not always learn best in “sit and get” settings. Usually, they learn in increments and then try putting lessons learned into practice. For some topics, “one and done” models might be effective. For others, it might make more sense to have a series of intervention strategies.

Often, the topics available for these “sit and get” sessions are limited and prescribed in K-12 education. Educators have a stock menu of options available to them, but it may be difficult to find options that a) fit into their schedules and b) address their most pressing problems of practice.

The bottom line:

Teacher training is incredibly important but does not always reflect what educators want or need.

What is MyPD and how does it address these problems?

Our primary motivation for designing MyPD was to provide educators with an opportunity to earn credit for their informal learning efforts. Up until this point, there was no system in Michigan for educators to earn SCECHs for the countless hours of work they spend on independent research.

Of course, as a teacher, you receive recognition for your informal learning insofar as it influences your evaluations and student success. But, historically, there has been no means of rewarding educators for the act of devoting time to learning that occurs outside of their daily job responsibilities.

We devised MyPD as a mechanism for rewarding you for taking control of your own learning and reflecting purposefully on how you can incorporate independent research into your everyday classroom practices.

Our hope was to design a true model of adult learning theory that validates the experience of today’s educators and offers them maximum autonomy with supportive guidance.

The resulting experience is somewhat like an independent study.

In this course, learners are asked to develop a PD plan with clear learning objectives, as well as to submit evidence for learning and a reflection detailing how they intend to apply lessons learned in their classrooms.

Upon submission, our professional learning specialists review each case, offering personalized feedback and awarding SCECHs.

Here’s an example of what this process looked like for one Michigan teacher:

One of the teachers who completed our MyPD course teaches physical education at a private Islamic school in Michigan. One challenge she faces is understanding how to best support students with dietary restrictions.

As such, she designed her professional learning plan around ways to create a more productive and inclusive learning environment for her students. To accomplish this, she devoted time to educating herself on how to teach students with differences in ability, age, health, dress, and fasting traditions.

“In focusing on productivity and inclusivity,” she said, “students will become more involved and more physically active, which in turn will help shape them to become life-long learners and lovers of physical activity.”

Leveraging the flexible structure of our MyPD course, this teacher was able to earn 10 SCECHs for spending time researching a topic directly related to the needs of her students and reflecting on how she could apply this knowledge to her P.E. classroom.

How do I get started?

Maybe this example reminds you of a challenge you’ve faced in your classroom that you’ve been meaning to spend time researching.

Maybe you have a stack of book recommendations gathering dust on your desk, or a Pinterest board (or two or three or four. . . ) overflowing with resources that you haven’t had time to read, organize, and implement.

Wherever your professional learning journey may take you, if your new year’s teaching resolutions involve using a variety of media (i.e., articles, blogs, podcasts, twitter chats, etc.) to research issues affecting you and your students, we encourage you to consider enrolling in MyPD as a way to earn SCECHs for the time and energy you spend on independent research.

Ken Dirkin

Ken Dirkin

For over 15 years Ken Dirkin has been revolutionizing education by creating technology solutions in education to help humans be better humans. Working with virtual worlds, mobile apps, new media and web, Ken is driven to decrease physical barriers in education and make learning more engaging and equitable. Ken’s energy is generated by work in education technology, international education, film and marketing. He strongly believes the best things in life are free. He lives with his awesome wife (Hi Kathy!), his #girlpower daughter and junior zoologist son.

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