Sunday, December 7, 2008

RIF--Reading is Fundamental

Gosh, I love to read. I read so many different things and love to discuss those readings with other like-minded and well-read individuals. This may be because of the former English teacher in me, but I also like to read other things besides just novels. I've always felt that reading new things provides great power to the taking in new knowledge from a book, you create a bigger world for yourself. And sharing that world with others creates even more powerful opportunities to learn new things. Interestingly, however, I have never belonged to a book club.

The one thing I miss about grad school is keeping up-to-date on the latest readings in regards to teaching, best practices, and educational leadership. However, I am thankful for having two great PLNs (Personal Learning Networks) that I converse with regularly to help me in this regard. My first group is an online social network of educators that I interact with daily through Twitter. With this group I share more resources than I can keep up with, literally. Thank God for bookmarking tools like Del.ic.ious, which I use to keep up on resources shared. However, the local folks in my twitterverse have also taken the next step in our network and have devoted time once a month to meet in person. We call a PD or Professional Development Party and we gather at one another's houses; this month, I get to host and I am really looking forward to it.

Another group I gather with monthly is a very intimate group of four, that's including myself, with whom I developed very close personal relationships during grad school. We always opted to work together on group assignments and met to work on other major projects or assignments even if they weren't "group work" per se just to share resources. During one of our last meetings as grad students, one friend suggested that we get together for dinner each month and to set a date right then for fear that "life would happen in between" (see earlier post "Hello, Old Friend") and that we'd run into each other in the grocery store three years later. As a result, we meet each month and bring our calendars so that we pick our next date before leaving that gathering. As with my other PLN we, too, have dinner at a designated member's house and share our personal experiences as relatively new administrators. The resounding element missing from this group, however, is that we are all behind on reading the latest and greatest in professional literature because we are immersed in our new positions. It is, therefore, our belief that we start a book study to ensure our continued professional growth. At our next gathering, we will decide on which book to read and I'm excited to have a purpose and make the time to read professional literature again.

How do you grow as a professional? How do you keep abreast of the latest and greatest best practices in regard to teaching and leading? What books have you read lately? I'd love to hear from you. Please take a moment to respond.


Leslie said...

Your posting is so profound for me right now. And for those that feel overwhelmed with starting a PLN, I recommend starting small. One application at a time. I started my PLN with a delicious account and through it was able to link in with others that were saving links similar to mine. Each night I would try to spend an hour going through my networks' links, reading their blogposts, etc. I noticed that I was going back to the same blogs over and over, so I started using Google Reader to keep the blogs that I read organized. Then came Twitter...

I must say I have been twittering for a month now and it takes a lot of work (not to scare anyone that is thinking of getting started). I did a lot of reading on which apps to use, how to build a network, how to find your niche, etc. There is so much sharing on Twitter, that I felt guilty for not giving back. Now I feel I've found my niche and it's a very fluid exchange. The PD that I have experienced through Twitter is PD that I wouldn't necessarily have chosen to go to had it been a workshop or conference session. For example, many people that I am linked to tweet about writing or english language arts and my area is math, but through the exchanges, I understand how I can apply a lot of what is shared to math. Talk about student-centered learning!

So in response to the question of what am I reading...I have Web 2.0 reading, personal reading, and professional reading going on and I love it! And often they all overlap-which to me is the best part of having a PLN!

Linda704 said...

Seems like I read everything but "fun" stuff. On the other had, the professional reading I do through my Web 2.0 network is fun. As a doctoral candidate working on my dissertation proposal, I'm reading about CBAM, Stages of Concern, change, and coaching. Journals: Ed Leadership and JSD. On my "wanna read" list: HP #7 and Tales of Despereaux.

Mike said...

I think that right now, my Professional Development is in a Call and Response mode - like jazz - a constant evolutionary state.

Like you, I'm gathering resources and as the need arises, I'm sharing them--continually learning and growing. Thanks to the internet, and the professional relationships and contacts that I have--my learning is exponential at this point. Some days are better than others with keeping up--but I like this zone.