Connected Learning & Where I Have Been…

Note: I have been deeply immersed in a new learning experience this past semester, which has kept me from my blog.  Now I have so much to write about….  Check your RSS feeds!  This post is cross-posted from the Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) Community Hub and Voices from the Learning Revolution.  I recently completed a Powerful Learning Practice  Connected Coach e-course . I am a Connected Coach for PLP, where I coach several teams of teachers as they move along their journey in “action research“, transforming instructional practices and learning within their own schools.  I am proudly displaying my PLPeep badge on this blog!

I am so grateful for my experience as a connected coach in PLP.  I approached the learning like I usually do, diving in with both feet.  The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn.  The more I learned, the more I realized what I do not know or what I have not mastered. And the journey will continue–lifelong.

The main difference between this learning experience and others that I have had as a learner is that it was a co-learning experience–I have never been part of something that was truly a co-learning experience in an online space. I have led online classes, and I have taken online classes, but never before have I felt this level of co-learning.  I relied heavily on what my fellow PLPeeps said in the webinars, their comments on the weekly discussions, and the resources they shared.  With out my learning community, I would not have grown nearly as much as I have.  I have admiration and respect for each voice that I encounter in the community.  I am always delighted when someone makes a comment on one of my ideas, helping me push my own thinking deeper, farther.  This is authentic learning–it is self-directed, collaborative, reflective, supportive, messy and it is a discovery process by doing and sharing.  Isn’t this what we want for our own students as well?  This is the heart of all the edubabble about 21st Century learning.  We exuded 21st Century learning, modeling best practices that we hope our own schools will attain.

What left an indelible mark on my own coaching perspective is the notion of starting from a strengths-based approach and empowering others to be positive deviants and change agents within their own systems of practice.  I think as teachers, we have been taught to look for what is wrong–find the errors.  The art of coaching demands that I can ask thoughtful questions couched in strengths and positivity, rather than focusing on what is not working.  An artful coach knows when to prod and when to back off, when to send “happy grams” and when to redirect a group with a thought-provoking question.  An artful coach knows how to actively listen and paraphrase. A Positive, strengths-based approach will also make me a better practitioner in the classroom–all of these skills can be applied to what I do as a tech teacher, yearbook advisor and professional development leader within my own school.  And what is the most exciting part about all of this is that we get to make a real difference in the lives of our colleagues, in the structures of schools and the institution of education as we know it, and ultimately make a positive difference for kids.

Moving forward, I am supercharged and energized more than ever.  I feel like I am empowered to make a difference, and I have a new arsenal of understandings, tools and colleagues to call my own.  I want to revisit many of the resources that were shared in the coaching community.  I want to read the entire book Evocative Coaching, as well as The Connected Educator.  I want to take what I have learned and take it to the next level.  I have plans to experiment with online communities of practice within my own school community, so that I can continue to grow as a connected coach and learner.  I want to develop my own use of Twitter more–something that I was not so interested in until recently because of this course. And finally, I want to help my teams put together their action research projects, so that they have a meaningful project to implement in the years to come.

You can tweet and follow Sarah Blattner @techbabble88 and explore the growing teacher resource wiki at K8JTechLearn.

2 thoughts on “Connected Learning & Where I Have Been…

  1. I am going to leave the first comment on my own blog to get the conversation rolling!

    What are some of the most meaningful professional development experiences you have had? Please share!

  2. Sarah,
    I loved seeing this cross posted here!

    Can I share more than 2 to answer your question?

    First, I took an online course from Concord Consortium back in 1998 called MOOM — moving out of the middle– all about facilitating online in an inquiry environment! That profoundly changed how I looked at teaching and learning.

    I developed a portfolio for NBPTS and earned national board certification– that was intense.

    Then I participated in the first MOOC— massive open online course– that stretched me alot.

    And now I’ve been learning in online communities of practice with educators and coaches— whoa–

    MOOM, MOOC, and PLP— What a privilege to be an educator and have learned in these ways–

    I am so glad you and I are now connected!

    Best wishes,