It’s been a few short weeks since Spring VirtCon 2014. You may have attended one of the many face-to-face events across the country with your colleagues and friends. You might have checked out the sessions from the comfort of your couch, sipping your coffee, and relaxing in your PJ’s. You may even have watched some of the sessions from your family’s pool! If you are like me, and most of the people who have gone on to interact with one another through Twitter and online, you were inspired by the many presenters whose love of teaching and learning is infectious. So, what next steps have you taken? Have you tried out a new tool? Have you explored some shifts in instructional practice in your classroom? Have you shared with colleagues and friends about your learning experience?
As you are moving into the final weeks of the school year, I challenge you to start thinking about how you can harness the inspirational sessions from the Spring VirtCon in a few ways to extend their spheres of influence from those who attended the sessions on April 26th to those who missed that opportunity. It’s a way to share your own excitement and inspiration, as well as opening doors for meaningful conversations around instructional technology, innovative teaching practice, and the purposeful use of digital media in our classrooms. I had the
pleasure to join a group of sixty educators from Gaston County Schools in North Carolina for their own face-to-face event, using the archives found at http://virtconlive.com . Many of the participants shared the value of collaborative conversations that were centered around the session topics. They identified “Accountability Partners” within their districts and possible mentors. They paused the sessions when they could not hear, or needed an extra second to locate the resources that were being shared. Teachers from across grade levels and content areas had focused conversations about content, practice, teaching strategies, and student learning. Suddenly, the archived sessions from VirtCon became fluid, living learning opportunities that facilitated conversations among professionals that were centered around the needs of their students and their own personal, school, and district initiatives.
Does this sound like something you and your peers could do? You bet! Here are a few ideas, as you start to think about how you can use the sessions from Spring VirtCon Live to facilitate meaningful professional development opportunities for your colleagues.
- Choose a session (or a few different ones) that meets a need, is a topic of conversation among your colleagues, or addresses a school or district initiative.
- Test the VirtCon Live archive in your school. Be sure to clear up any technical issues ahead of time.
- Check with your school or district and find out if you can receive “official” credit.
- Watch the archived session ahead of time. Prepare 4-5 key questions for conversation. Remember, the questions should be designed to provoke meaningful talks around hot topics in education practice.
- Invite your peers to join you for a truly interactive professional development opportunity.
- Lead the conversation that revolves around your chosen session. Stop and start the archived video for discussion, clarification, further exploration, and questions. Let it be organic and meaningful. It may take on an entirely different direction than you are expecting.
- Enjoy the learning! Just because you prepared the questions, does not mean that you are not going to be surprised and inspired.
- Include an action plan as a way to wrap things up for the day. What is going to happen next? How will your learning, conversations, and teaching shift because of the conversations?
- Share! Find a way to share about your opportunity with other colleagues and plan for next time!
If you have used sessions from Spring VirtCon or previous activities, I would love to hear about your experiences, tips, and tricks.