“Sit and Git, Spray and Pray, There’s Gotta Be a Better Way.”
He wondered aloud if it was possible to think about professional learning differently than the prescribed professional activity days or the once a month mandatory staff meetings. What followed was a lively discussion where a variety of edcampers shared good and bad experiences and thought about necessary operational training, running edcamp models in schools for half a day, and why presenters and facilitators create deadly boring sessions. We all agreed that whenever a presenter says “Don’t do this with your students, but I have 45 slides to show you…” or something similar, you know the presentation is going to be terrible!
I listened, fascinated to hear some well-considered opinions about how we can learn. Sometimes I wanted to defend our district practices, but wisely held my tongue. That’s not what the discussion was about. I needed to listen and think. At the end of the session, I was left wondering what it meant for me as someone who designs and implements structures for professional learning.
Learning is hard work and does not necessarily come naturally. I subscribe to the definition shared by Steven Katz in Intentional Interruption that it is a change in thinking and behaviour. Learning is not sharing. It’s not even having a great discussion. Learning means changing your schema.
That does not mean that sharing ideas or resources (Eduslam or Smackdown, anyone?) or having a great discussions with colleagues isn’t useful. These are important steps in beginning to learn. The real sign of learning for me is when my behaviour begins to change.
There’s no one right model for professional learning. We need a variety for different reasons. For example, self-directed learning emerges from our current work and context. We identify areas where we feel our knowledge is lacking or where we have a passion to learn more. Structured learning time with a set agenda, time for thinking and discussion and then deeper understanding provides a framework. Learning can emerge from that framework if we can disrupt our regular patterns of thinking. Job-embedded learning helps us evaluate and reflect on the effectiveness of our actions in the moment with support from our peers. Time for reflection and even blogging gives us opportunities to consider new ideas and new practices, assess how successful they were and adjust our schema as necessary.
There’s no magic bullet to professional learning. I need to continue to reflect and refine. I am sure of one thing: sit and git is the worst.