On Saturday, February 27th, more than a hundred educators gathered at St. Georges Technical High School to participate in a free, teacher-led workshop about personalized learning hosted by the Rodel Teacher Council. The participants included student teachers, novice teachers, and veteran teachers; district, charter, and independent school teachers; higher education faculty and staff, and representation from all grade bands, preK-12, and nearly every academic discipline!
Teachers enjoyed a hearty and tasty breakfast made by students in the culinary arts program at St. Georges before heading to the main auditorium to listen to keynote speaker Kerry Gallagher a fellow educator and digital learning specialist at St. John’s Prep in Danvers, Massachusetts. Gallagher discussed her journey with personalized learning and implementing technology in the classroom. In particular, she discussed how technology has enabled her students to collaborate in meaningful and empowering ways such as blogging, Google Docs, and social media tools. Her honesty and sense of humor resonated with the crowd.
Next, teachers headed to the exciting morning sessions. After taking into consideration teacher feedback from last year, the Rodel Teacher Council decided to expand the workshop offerings from five to 14 sessions. This enabled educators to pick sessions that truly addressed skill and/or content gaps in and out of the classroom. In other cases, educators simply picked a workshop out of curiosity or interest. Some of the featured workshop focused on topics such as Schoology, the Smarter Balanced Digital Learning Library, and teacher leadership. Clearly, the Saturday workshop compelled educators to think about the immense possibilities of technology in the classroom and personalized learning. Most importantly, educators left the Saturday session with practical tools and strategies for their classrooms as evidenced by the tweet below!
This workshop truly offered educators the unique opportunity to collaborate across school lines and academic disciplines, something that doesn’t happen often enough. Rarely do teachers get the chance to participate in an authentic learning experience tailored to their needs. It was refreshing to have the choice of which content to learn about and to know that all of the sessions were hosted by expert educators with first-hand experience of the dynamics of real classrooms.
In other words, this professional development opportunity was actually personalized. In order for personalized learning to be a success in the state of Delaware, we must offer more meaningful, personalized professional development opportunities at the state and local levels. This will be the key to ensuring that today’s educators can truly continue to grow and advance the needed skill set for the 21st century, and prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s realities.