Professional Learning | Really?

You may have seen this YouTube clip that is circling social media at the moment.

It was taken at a Chicago Professional Development session and was shared as an example of why teachers are going out of their minds on the Washington Post blog, Answer Sheet. In the last couple of days I have also read Wes Fryer’s post, with a good reminder not to turn this into a stereotype and also Larry Ferlazzo’s blog, who felt “Yes, you can make a lot of things look bad taken out of context, but I don’t think a case can be made that this is appropriate for any professional development, or classroom, context….”

When I first watched it many emotions swarmed inside me; sadness, horror, embarrassment, anger, disbelief. At one stage I may have laughed at the outrageousness of it all.

There is one part of the video which continues to niggle at me. What makes me most upset is that no one stood up to it.  Are we so disempowered that we can’t stand up for what we know is right? Every teacher in the room knows this is not learning. But still they responded and chanted. And if I had been there I would have done exactly the same thing. I know that because I do already. I sit through “content delivery” at professional development after professional development and I feel myself being patronised but I continue to put up with it. I know better but still I let it go on.

If there is anything I can learn from this video it is that I need to speak up. I shouldn’t sit by and let this happen. I need to offer support to those facilitating professional learning and offer feedback. Not in a  survey but in a real face to face feedback.  I need to use my knowledge and experience about learning and share this with others.  I need to encourage others not to accept this either and nor should our students. I need to take a stand so this doesn’t become the stereotype of professional learning in any setting.


I am educator. I am me.

I have been thinking lately about how I conduct myself on social media.  After reading George Couros‘ blog post on Professional vs Private I reflected on my own use of social media.  I too have tended to separate my personal life which generally lives on Facebook and my professional life which predominantly lives in Twitter.  I don’t think I planned it this way but when I first started using Facebook I was travelling the world and wanted to share what I was doing to my antipodean family.  Twitter came a bit later and I was wearing my teaching hat when I fell into it.  Slowly, the lines between the two are starting to blend as my Twitter acquaintances become friends and my friends find Twitter.

I do believe that Facebook offers a false sense of security of privateness where as Twitter boldly puts everything into the public realm.  George stated that he is happy to have students follow him on Twitter as it is a completely public arena, whereas on Facebook he won’t ‘friend’ students.

I agree when he points out that although it is in the private section of Facebook we would be very naive to think it is always private.  It does make me wonder if Facebook too was as public as Twitter whether I would sepaprate the two as much.  Maybe I have learnt skills from Facebook that I use on Twitter?

Image: ‘Teaching the Toys
Found on

I was recently given the advice that I need to draw a line between my professional life and personal life.  I took great offence to this. Education is personal to me.  Even as a young girl I would ‘play school’ with my Barbies, setting up my bedroom to look like my classroom and teaching them how to spell. And today it continues to invigorate me, comfort me, consume me.

I check twitter before I get out of bed in the morning.  I reply to emails or questions at the park on a Sunday. I walk past free postcards and I take a handful as they might come in handy for teaching writing one day. And I am not willing to draw a line between my personal and professional because it would tear me in half.

My  friends expect I am going to talk about learning over dinner  and my students get to know my friends through the stories I tell. I love that I can be there for people who care about the same things I do on Twitter and learn from them, the same as I do with friends I have grown up with.

Being an educator is who I am and I wouldn’t be whole without it.