As I focus on documenting for learning I’m thinking about how I prepare for learning.  In particular, preparation for professional development sessions with educators. I’m looking forward to working with MS and HS teachers in Malaysia for two days next week on blogging in the classroom. Preparation and planning began over 3 months ago and the hours involved have steadily increased as the session dates draw near. The 3 questions – Why? How? and What? have been a three-pronged approach to planning these two days so I thought I’d share my learning process with you.

The Why

Blogging is something that I’ve always been passionate about. Using technology to enhance learning took a hold of me and “lit my fire” so I began to blog.  It was always important to me to share my passion of the authentic use of technology in the classroom with others. Fast-forward to today. As I head down the Independent Consultant road it’s important for me to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. Hence the reason for this particular post. It’s my documenting and reflecting on the learning process.
Idea plan action prepare for learning

The How

In order to understand the purpose behind the professional development being requested, a meeting with the stakeholder is important. First emails establish a connection. Skype allows us to connect and talk about expectations and needs surrounding the two days of PD. This is a fact-finding mission to gather as much information as possible. I need to discover where a school and it’s staff is and where they want to go. Together we decided how they want to move forward.  It is always inspiring to be a part of a school that wants to move forward. Not quite sure how to move forward doesn’t deter them and they are willing to bring a stranger in help them achieve their goals. To help with the planning stage I like to use Google Docs. It’s a brilliant way to keep track of conversations, planning, resources, ideas, schedules, observations in order to bring everything together. A document was shared with the school stakeholders and became the eventual planning document for how the two professional development days would pan out. All stakeholders had editing rights.
Consulting Experts
I’m very fortunate to have made some life-long friendships with very clever and knowledgable people.  There are people in my personal learning network that I would have never connected with if it weren’t for being a blogger.  I didn’t get to meet these people in person until a long time after connecting with them online. Now, I have been fortunate to have met (and worked with some) my “expert” friends. For this particular PD planning, I turned to them for advice, thoughts, ideas and opinions. I think I was really seeking confirmation that my thinking and planning was on the right track. More specifically that the planning made sense and that it flowed.
Silvia and I at the floating market
Silvia & I at the Floating Market during her 2009 visit to Bangkok.

Through skype I had a lovely conversation (and much needed catch up) with my dear friend Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano. Silvia is a walking plethora of blogging expertise (you must check out her resources that she shares via creative commons with educators all over the world). It was reassuring to share my ideas and thoughts with Silvia and hear her reassurance that my thinking was on-track. A bonus was that I was able to garner some more ideas for working with teachers on a topic that is so vast!

Again, thanks to skype and a spare “hour” in his very busy schedule, was a chat with Andrew Churches. I sought out Andrew’s expertise on working with large groups of people, his experience with IB and his amazing work with Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Andrew suggested some brilliant ways to help facilitate the learning beyond “keynote / lecture”.

The use of a google document meant that I was able to share my planning ideas with other consultant experts. In particular, two very good colleagues (and brilliant friends) Kim Cofino & Dana Watts.  These two amazing ladies have a wealth of experience working with educators in a consultancy context so their feedback on the planning of sessions was invaluable.

In documenting the process that I’m going through to prepare for this PD, I realise that I know some incredibly talented and generous educators. I am extremely grateful that I have these kinds of people in my own personal learning network. In reflection I am struck by the notion that when you’re globally connected with others you have the ability to pass on authentic learning to fellow educators and it multiplies exponentially. Stay tuned for Part II where I’ll share The What.