Any teacher worth their salt ascribes to an essential truth; we can learn something every day from anyone we meet. Professionally, teachers tend to gain new knowledge in one of two scenarios. The first is in our classrooms. Period to period and day to day, we tend to fix our mistakes and improve our craft through observation and experience. It is the hallmark of our profession. We get to start over many times a day and year to year. The second scenario is through structured professional developments.
In the past, professional development consisted of a sit-and-get style of learning. Furthermore, in many districts across the nation, professional development was less about developing professionally, and more about “getting your hours in.” Even the best of professional development sessions often equated to 10 minutes of usable material in an hour-long session. But, in the words of Bob Dylan, “Times, they are a-changin’.” Teachers have realized that the old style of learning wasn’t meeting their needs for their changing student demographics. Movements like micro-credentialing have made it easier for teachers to gain knowledge and skills from the comfort of their own couch. TeachingPartners has made it easier for teachers to seek out their own knowledge through different groups and workshops. Movements like ECET2 and EdCamp have put professional learning opportunities back in the hands of teachers. Twitter provides a unique learning environment for teachers seeking specific answers. And here, in JCPS, JCPSVoice virtual community organizers strive to provide timely, relevant professional development to JCPS teachers from the comfort of their own couch.
So why did I write this? The obvious, easy answer is to simply share information. The other reason is a bit more personally important. Teachers need to advocate for their needs and should seek out resources that impact themselves professionally. Teachers need to leave each learning opportunity with something tangible and actionable. In the classroom, this is easy. Out of the classroom, we lose a bit of control. So my ask? Embrace the practice of pajama learning. Spend time seeking out virtual information and help. Grow every day, even if it is in your PJs.