We all love summer as we can relax and catch up on many things we can’t do during the school year. If you haven’t set up your personal learning network (PLN) so far, it may be the perfect time to do that.
We are living in times when as educators, we should be continually growing and changing. We now know that our students don’t benefit from one-size-fits-all education and we have to transform it. In order to meet the needs of all learners, we have to replace teacher-centered, textbook-based classrooms with learning environments where deeper learning* occurs. The expectations of the 21st century workplaces have also changed. We live in a world where abundant information, some of which is subject to change in time, is accessible everywhere you can find an internet connection. What is valid nowadays is not the information itself, but the skills to process the information effectively and use it to create meaning. Moreover, workplaces need workers who can think critically and creatively to find innovative solutions to challenging problems, who can effectively communicate and collaborate with other workers in local or global teams. Therefore, their education should involve all these skills.
IMAGE CREDIT: Krissy Venosdale www.venspired.com
With the help of the new technologies we can help our students internalize all the skills that 21st century education requires instead of having them memorize information for an exam as passive recipients of content and forget everything the next day. Of course it is not easy to make all these radical changes in the way we teach. First, we should learn about the modern pedagogies that will enable our students to be effective communicators, collaborators, thinkers, inquirers, makers, creators and lifelong learners and create learning spaces and environments to address the needs of all learners. We should also learn to integrate the new technologies to be able to reach our learning goals.
Luckily, we are living in a networked society, which enables us to learn from the resources available online, and most importantly from each other. As Med Kharbach says, “Educators from different stripes of society find in them new promising ways to connect with others in the other end of the world. What was before strictly limited to local environment is now open-ended and restricted only by users’ choice. Educational affinity spaces, virtual platforms, and communities of practice have mushroomed everywhere online and any teacher from anywhere in the world can join in the conversation and participate in the knowledge building taking place inside these learning hubs. There has never been such abundance of opportunities for teachers’ professional development as it is now. In this context, being a connected educator in the 21st century means being part of a universal community of teachers ready to help you as well as learn from you. No one is as smart as all of us.”
HOW TO START AND IMPROVE YOUR PLN?
If you haven’t set up your PLN yet, the infographic below may be helpful:
There are also many resources available online for teachers who want to improve their PLNs. Education is now in a period of tremendous change that requires all of us to stay current with the trends and learning environments. Therefore, learning to create and manage a personal learning network is a necessary skill and an essential tool for teachers in the 21st century. After all, we should model our students as lifelong learners just as we expect it from them. We need to lead by example.
As an English teacher, I would like to finish this post by recommending some online PD websites for English teachers. My Scoopit on Cool Web Tools for ESL, EFL, ELL and MFL learners, which is available on my blog, may also be helpful to teachers who are looking for tech tools. If you know more PD websites for English teachers, please let me know. Have a great summerJ
Pearson Elt 21st Century Learning Series for teachers http://www.pearsonelt.com/21stcenturylearning
Cambridge English Teacher http://www.cambridgeenglishteacher.org/
The Best Places for ESL/EFL/ELL Teachers to Get Online Professional Development by Larry Ferlazzo: http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/2012/06/03/the-best-places-for-esleflell-teachers-to-get-online-professional-development/
Professional resources for LA Teachers by Web English Teacher http://www.webenglishteacher.com/profres.html
Teacher Development by British Council http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/teacher-development
English Teaching Forum http://americanenglish.state.gov/english-teaching-forum
ELT Teacher Trainer by John Hughes http://elteachertrainer.com/
Professional Learning for Connected Educators by Powerful Learning Practice http://plpnetwork.com/author/shelley-wright/
100 talks, sessions & interviews on Harrogate IATEFL 2014 Online by British Council http://iatefl.britishcouncil.org/2014/sessions/index
TeacherCast University by Jeffrey Bradbury: http://tcu.teachercast.net/
25 Excellent Professional Development Tools for Teachers by Med Kharbach http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/01/23-excellent-professional-development.html
* The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. “Deeper Learning Defined.” April 2013.