How to Find Free Professional Development for Rock Star Educators

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Just like students, educators show up at all different points in their educational journey. For each one, their unique learning needs are just that… unique. One of my favorite trends in education is the movement away from the one-and-done, sit-and-get, expect-nothing-to-change obligatory professional development of the past (Can I get an “AMEN!”?).

Of course, there is another layer of learning found through professional conferences and events where educators come together to share and support each other. These are amazing experiences, but the energy they produce is difficult to sustain between experiences and without that support often the impact they create on student learning does not reach its potential.

As a replacement, educational leaders who truly want to be amazing for the kids have transitioned professional development by focusing on systems like school improvement plans, professional learning communities, and badging programs which focus on meeting the needs and interests of the faculty while positively, and measurably impacting student learning.

For Rock Star educators, however, social media provides a global community of powerful learning happening beyond the school walls. It’s a place where educational ideas are pushed, new trends emerge, and voices are heard. It is boundary-less, empowering, and open for participation… best of all, it’s free.

Having immersed myself in this amazing form of personalized learning for the past few years, I forget that many educators don’t even know it exists or if they do, may not know how to find it and get involved. For those ready to jump in… Here are a few places to start:

Twitter Chats

A Twitter chat is a public Twitter conversation around one unique hashtag. This hashtag allows you to follow the discussion and participate in it. Twitter chats are usually recurring and on specific topics to regularly connect people with these interests.

You will find chats that cover just about every idea in education right now. For example, every other week on Wednesdays at 7 pm (CST) there is a best-practices-for-2nd-grade- teachers chat using the hashtag, #2ndchat. There are chats for every other grade level as well. You can also find chats for classroom strategies like #Engagechat hosted by Eric Davis (@Daviswelcome) on Fridays at 7 pm (CST). There are even chats hosted by authors like Dave Burgess who’s #TLAP (Teach Like a Pirate) inspires a chat every Monday at 8 pm (CST).

There are a ton more - covering every topic in education. To find comprehensive lists check out  Participate and Education Chat.

Also, for more on how to actively participate in a twitter chat check out the blog post Learning to Twitter Chat is not Difficult at All.


Twitter Digital Book Clubs

Once you find and participate in Twitter Chats you will discover other educators to follow. When I created my Twitter account I wanted to focus my efforts on professional development connections. Therefore, I only chose to follow people and companies that fit my professional interest and goals and my Twitter feed reflects that.

Frequently, influencers will post an invitation for educators to participate in a digital book club. One of my favorite PD reading leaders is Meredith Johnson who spent 40 years in education and more than 26 in school administration. Now she is championing Twitter-based digital book camps. Follow her at @mjjohnson1216  and her hashtag #BookCampPD to jump in and start learning with educators around the world.


Instagram Digital Book Clubs

This is NEW! George Couros, author of Innovator’s Mindset has been hosting a book club on Instagram where he posts questions and videos based on his book.

Followers are invited to take on a book inspired challenge and post their responses.

Here’s one that I thought was super cool from mrs.hurd.norco

If you want to jump in or watch the Instagram experiment unfold just follow George on Instagram and use the hashtag #InnovatorsMindset.

However, you choose to jump into this Rock Star educator energy - Just do it! There's so many amazing voices and so much exciting energy out there waiting for you to jump in.

...Can’t wait to see you online!