Education Opinion

My 24/7 Personal PD Provider

By Jennifer Barnett — May 16, 2012 2 min read

Jennifer Barnett

I work in a district that is wildly dedicated to implementing a project-based learning curriculum, using technology to facilitate the learning process, and practicing strategic teaching and formative assessment every day. I’ve witnessed the dramatic impact that our efforts have had on students’ abilities to research, analyze, discuss, collaborate, and reflect on their learning. They use technological tools in focused ways on a daily basis. They are active learners.

Not too surprisingly, the best professional development I’ve experienced is pretty similar to my students’ learning. I find teamwork invigorating, research revealing, thinking and writing liberating, and discussion necessary for formulating plans and solutions.

And my professional growth dramatically changed my practice when I began using technology for these purposes. Teachers now have access to a mind-boggling range of digital tools. I catalogue some of my favorites in My Web Wardrobe.

But my absolute best 24/7 PD provider is my personal learning network (PLN)—the evolving group of people who expose me to research, push my thinking, engage in meaningful discussions, and collaborate with me. I turn to my network for news, advice, perspective, expertise, solutions, and support.

Next year I will assume a position as a Technology Integration Specialist in a school that is shifting to a 1:1 student to computer ratio with a project based learning focused curriculum. Though the PD for this shift has been on going for some time, a variety of initiatives await my attention. For example, I am responsible for the selection, training, and implementation of the best digital portfolio tool for our students. I cannot imagine how I could do this without my PLN. Their advice and expertise has provided me not only with answers, but also with the confidence I need lead my school (and likely, my district) in adoption of student digital portfolios. Although I am on my own in this work, I am not alone.

The more I invest in my PLN (time, effort, willingness to share successes and setbacks), the more I receive. I end nearly every day energized by the power of my network to meet the challenges ahead. I wish more teachers had PLNs—and that more administrators understood and valued PLNs, incorporating them as options for required professional development. In my follow-up post, I’ll share some ideas for how to advocate for PLNs.

Meanwhile, do you have a PLN success story to share?

Jennifer Barnett is an English and social studies teacher and a technology specialist in Talladega County, Ala. She is a co-author of
Teaching 2030: What We Must Do for Our Students and Our Public Schools, Now and in the Future.

The opinions expressed in Teaching Ahead: A Roundtable are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read