As I write this post, I’m reminded of the song “Summertime,” a current hit by Kenny Chesney. Some of the lyrics go like this--School's out and the nights roll in…
For many staff members those lyrics meant a time for learning and sharing.
It was exciting to see teachers voluntarily participating in informal professional development focused on integrating technology to change their classrooms.
Highlights of the informal learning include:
1) A book study wiki. http://mnwbookstudy.wikispaces.com/ The District Leadership Team read and reflected on 21st Century Skills, Rethinking How Students Learn, an anthology published by Solution Tree. Teachers and administrators shared their insights into what 21st Century Skills mean.
2) Flexible sessions were held to learn the basics of Twitter, Diigo, Blogging, and various Web 2.0 tools. It was fun to tweet back and forth as teachers learned Twitter and started to develop their individual Professional Learning Networks.
3) Teachers learned about connecting with others as they participated in #edchat, #elemchat, and #mathchat while making connections with teachers all over the world.
4) Several teachers and administrators attended The Reform Symposium, an online conference for educators, administrators, parents and students. This year the conference focused on innovative practices in education and what role these practices play in educational reform.
After a summer packed with learning and sharing, two teachers shared their thoughts. One said, "Building a PLN through Twitter has provided me with amazing professional collaboration opportunities. I have found other passionate educators that have given me tools to use in my classroom. This year I believe my students will be immersed in a 21st century learning environment. Without my PLN through Twitter, I don't know that I would have had the tools or connections to provide this for my students."
Another said, "I have been trying to use technology in my every day life to catch up with those digital natives! What I really have enjoyed about this process (informal learning) is that I can collaborate (ie...Twitter, meetings, etc.) with other teachers, while also doing some independent learning."
So, for many, summertime at MNW doesn't reflect the stereotypical 3 months off. Our staff has an ongoing restlessness and passion for improvement and our informal summer learning is a great example of continuous learning.