What is Flexible Professional Development? In Milaca, it is an opportunity for teachers to personalize their professional development. Teachers are given 15 hours, two contracted days, to engage in growth opportunities in areas of interest and need. While this learning must take place outside of the contractual teaching day, teachers are being paid for their learning and professional development. We are in our first year of the program. There have definitely been hiccups along the way and missteps to learn from, but to me, possibilities greatly outweigh the needs for improvement.
In an effort to provide opportunities for staff, I decided to offer three, 7.5 hour FlexPD mini-courses, which focus on areas and topics I thought teachers might be interested in. The concept of the mini-courses originated in discussions with Ashley Protivinsky, @AProtivinsky, my Digital Learning Leaders Coach from TIES, who I am working with as a part of my project to develop and deliver Flexible PD courses to Milaca teachers. As part of my personal growth, I plan to reflect upon each of the offered courses in future posts located in the Digital Learning Leaders Page of my blog.
I decided to kick off the courses with a book study on the best education/teaching book I read in the last year, Innovator’s Mindset, by George Couros. It is a fantastic and inspiring read. The other reason I chose this book was because of the large #IMMOOC (Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Community) group that formed on Facebook, Twitter, and the Couros’s website, http://immooc.org/, which supported book study participants with ideas on how to connect the content of the book with practical integrations for classroom teachers. Because of this, I was able to borrow heavily from the ideas and prompts discussed online, and relate them to the experiences Milaca teachers share. The second course is a SAMR technology integration course. After an initial meeting with teachers about SAMR, teachers will spend 4 weeks creating, implementing, and reflecting on how they have tried each of the levels in a class with a lesson or activity. The third course is on Flexible Learning Spaces. This one will begin with the sharing of articles, videos, and ideas about Flexible Classroom and School Environments, then it will be a chance to share ideas, with the opportunity for the more daring staff to begin the process of transforming their classrooms to make them better areas for student learning.
Once the courses being offered were decided upon, the next thing I had to consider was facilitation of the course. In Milaca, our staff is familiar using Edmodo and Google Classroom as an LMS. I decided that Google Classroom offered the best opportunities for discussions and collaborations. I divided the Innovator’s Mindset book up into its 4 parts and created prompts for teachers to reply to and to comment on the replies of others. I also plan to use Google Classroom for the other courses being offered. It is an easy platform for teachers to use without much instruction or direction. It is also great for teachers to see how the LMS operates from a student perspective.
Finally, I needed to get teachers to sign up to be a part of the FlexPD mini-courses. To market the market them, I wanted to use a technology tool that teachers might see as useful, so I created an Adobe Spark Page. I entered in some content about each offering, included some visuals, and created links to be used to register for the courses. I then presented the FlexPD course opportunities at staff meetings in both the high school and elementary. Additionally, I have been sending out emails about 1 week before the new classes as a reminder that there is still time to sign up.
I am very excited about the possibilities and I look forward to sharing more results from the project in the future.