By: Matt Rhoads, Ed.D
Dr. Matt Rhoads is a Tech and Instructional Leader and Innovator with hands in Adult Ed, K-12, and Higher Education. He is the author of several books and is the host of Navigating Education – The Podcast.
There are many ways for us to build our capacity and learn as educators. More so than ever before, we have a multitude of different opportunities and pathways to learn and grow. In my growth as an educator, I have curated many resources that have helped me grow in my practice. Having a wide range of opportunities that I can access is great to build capacity and learn something new. Additionally, I like to have options as my mood and yearning vary for a type of modality I would like my learning to look like for that day. Giving yourself options changes things up and keeps the learning fresh and motivating.
The purpose of this post is to provide thoughts and resources to help you formulate your own personalized learning professional development pathway. Throughout this guide, you will find avenues that can amplify your practice. We will be cover seven pathways you can utilize to personalize your learning:
- District, County, or State PD Opportunities
- Adult Learning Education Resources
- Twitter & Twitterchats
- Education Blogs
- Education Themed Books
- Education Research
Take a look at some great curated resources to help personalize your learning pathway!
- District, County, and State PD Opportunities
Within our local and state education districts and institutions, there are a wide variety of opportunities to grow and learn. At the district level, there are school site and district-based PD opportunities. Then, there are county-level and state-level PD opportunities. Many of which now you can select and attend online. Currently, there are more opportunities than ever before to attend a PD training to meet your specific learning interests and needs.
- Your Current Education Niche
Each of us has our own current niche and context in education. Whether you are in elementary, secondary, higher education, adult education, Special Education, EdTech, or leadership, there are many opportunities for us to grow and learn from associations and organizations that provide PD for our specific niches.
In my case, it’s Adult Education instruction and leadership. There are a variety of resources to help support teachers in building their instructional toolkit. CalPRO provides online courses, resource guides, and teaching tool resources. OTAN is the leading adult education supporter of the effective application of technology. They give online workshops, tutorials, and the Technology and Distance Learning Symposium conference. Each of these organizations provides many opportunities to continue to grow and learn within the context of Adult Education.
- Twitter & Twitterchats
Twitter is one of the best platforms where you can connect with educators from across the world to learn and grow from one another. It has been a game-changer in my career! You can not only view the stream of Tweets, but you can also follow various lists of educators who are experts in various areas (i.e., ELA, EdTech, etc.). Additionally, you can follow #hashtags related to topics and trends you may be interested in by going to https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/ to search and curate the Tweets. Last, you can participate in real-time chats with educators related to a specific topic and respond to their thoughts.
Twitterchat – The Basics
Twitterchat – How to Participate
- Education Blogs
For a quick read and overview of a topic you want to learn more about, there are education blogs that are easily accessible. Blogs provide opportunities for educators to reflect, provide tutorials, put research into practice, and describe what’s working versus not working within their classrooms and schools. Included below are a number of blogs that provide a plethora of information on a wide range of topics related to instruction, leadership, EdTech, and more.
- Getting Smarter Blog
- Teachers on Fire on Medium
- School Rubric
- Cult of Pedagogy
- Top 100 Education Blogs that Teachers Should Follow
Additionally, writing your own blogs helps you formulate the ideas you’ve digested from professional learning. It also is a way to display your learning to share with others who can learn fro your insights.
While grading, driving, planning, or writing emails, podcasts are a great way to listen to content that you may be interested in learning and applying to your practice. From instruction, EdTech, leadership, equity, grading, to education research, there are a wide range of topics you can choose from. Find your own! Or, create your own as it’s a great way to interview and learn from educators locally as well as from across the globe.
- Navigating Education – The Podcast
- The Chey and Pav Show – Teachers Talking Teaching Podcast
- The Innovators Mindset
- Teachers on Fire
- YouTube for Tutorials and Inspiration
YouTube is a fantastic resource to look up various tutorials on how to do a specific tech technique or instructional strategy. Use the search bar and you can look up a wide range of topics that may help you. Besides tutorials, podcasts and interviews with educators are also posted, which can be nice additions to your playlists to watch to learn something new.
Books are another resource and gateway to learning information that can be transformational to your practice. Education-themed books are a great avenue, but also are inspirational, motivational, and self-care books. Each and every one of these books can not only improve our practice but also us learn about other important facets that can make us better educators and people. Whether it’s a physical book or an ebook, they provide an amazing opportunity to take in and find ways to support ourselves and practice. Rowman Littlefield, DBC, EduMatch, Solution Tree, ASCD, and Corwin are some great publishers to look at for education books.
8. Education Research
Education and neuroscience research has been a huge facet of my learning. In my capacity as a chair and committee member for doctoral students, I have to keep up to date on a wide variety of topics to support my doctoral students as they progress in their research in their dissertation. Therefore, I utilize many types of research tools and pathways to access the latest research. Google Scholar, being a Member of Two University Libraries as an Adjunct Faculty to access journal databases, and Proquest has provided me access to the latest research. Tools such as Feedly and Zotero help me curate the research to then be used for supporting my students and for my research and writing.
Create Your Own Pathway
The information and expertise are out there to grow our practices. Besides content available, it is digestible in a wide variety of modalities, which has changed the nature of professional learning and development. As a result, we truly have the ability to see what we want to learn and then find a modality that we can learn and digest the content to impact our practice.