This week’s EdublogsClub prompt feels connected to my post last week. My professional development can be divided into two categories; regulations and stuff-not-related-to-my-job. I’ll let you in on a secret, the latter was more fun.
I’m not sure how different professional development in higher/further education is to professional development in schools. But the last college and university I worked at were linked, so we had staff infill on some courses and fee waivers on others. There were terms and conditions on the fee waiver and I was lucky enough to be on a fixed-term contract during the time when a teaching course I wanted to do was running. I was unlucky enough to be on a casual contract during the rest of the time so I had to get a student loan for my undergraduate courses. I’ll pay it off one day, I hope.
I loved doing my teaching course, I was interviewed for my college’s alumni association blog (cache at web.archive.org/web/20150816191527/http://alumni.ccb.ac.uk/alumni/former-student-returning-to-college-a-second-time/). Have I been able to apply my skills to any of my jobs? Well, here’s the interesting part…
I have not had much professional development in my paid jobs (outside of regulatory training) but in my volunteer roles I’ve had freedom to experiment. And I think organisations who work with volunteers have a better approach when it comes to professional development – they ask you what you’re good at and interested in. Then they try to find a task where you can apply your skill set.
This is a technique that I think could work well in educational establishments. Obviously, there are risks to being experimental but you really don’t know until you’ve tried.
My friend K sent me a link that I’ve been thinking about for the past few days:
And I believe the piece addresses some of the concerns about risk. In my volunteer roles, where I am in place to support the paid staff, I can afford to be experimental. If I have an idea about digital tools / learning games I am free to go off and research. In my paid job, my time is money. If I have an idea about a project I’d like to do, I first have to prove a need is there and I have to ensure it is sustainable.
I find it funny that, in an industry where we encourage people to experiment, we are reluctant to take risks. For years I have been trying to encourage other students to build in Minecraft Education Edition. I think it is a brilliant tool, but other researchers say it is a gimmick (see article above). So, how do I get people to try it and see for themselves? Why experiment and risk failure when the tried-and-tested way is going to be successful? I understand the reasoning.
But I also feel that professional development is a place where we can explore the other talents that our colleagues have. Maybe you don’t need to teach Minecraft, and you might have no interest in Minecraft but if you know I do then why not get me to show you some of what I know? I love showing friends/family/classmates/colleagues stuff I’m interested in – heck, I’ve even put out calls on my previous company’s intranet offering to make blogs for people. I was so desperate to use some of my skill set that I was fishing for opportunities.
I saw an article in Flow magazine that reminded me of this idea. It came with a handy list:
I got thinking about whether it is feasible to set up a skill share professional development scheme in educational institutions. Because I know I have ideas, but I don’t know who to tell them to and sometimes I’m not even sure if they are worthwhile. However, maybe a colleague might know. Or maybe that colleague knows another colleague who would benefit from my idea. Maybe my idea could be shelved for a while and revisited later. Maybe a collaborative relationship could form and we could do something else entirely.
All this may sound like a waste of time. But it would be time wasted with confidence-boosting activities for me. And when I feel good, it shows in my work.