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The problem with traditional professional learning

connected pe

I have just had the privilege of presenting on the topic of “Flipped Learning” as part of Connected PE’s free online PE conference. It really got me thinking about the way we go about professional learning (PL) in education and how misguided that can be. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a good conference – travelling, meeting new people, hearing from like minded professionals who have amazing ideas. But with this traditional approach to PL comes a few issues that makes me wonder whether it is all worth while!

Cost is a huge factor in attending decent PL. A three day conference can cost upwards of $700 and thats before you even factor in travel and accommodation expenses. I am heading to our national PE conference next month and the cost of me attending currently sits at about $1100 NZD. That is an insane amount of money to be spending over three days. Is it worth it? Yes (most of the time), but I have definitely attended conferences that offered very little value for money.

Time away from your family and the classroom can be a concern also. While not necessarily a monetary expense, being away from my young family can be hard emotionally (and not just for my children!). In terms of classroom, one of best messages I received from my HOD as a beginning teacher was that “you are the best person to be in front of your class“. It has been the one of the best pieces of advice I have received in my brief teaching career and something I emphasise with all of my teaching staff now. Time spent away from the classroom has a direct impact on the achievement of your students. Thankfully a lot of PL occurs during term and semester breaks, but often that is time we should be setting aside to relax and recover.

The biggest issue I have with traditional PL is what I like to call the “real world factor”. At most PL events you come away super pumped, full of ideas to implement with your classes and lots of new friends. But once you are back in the real world, the grind kicks in and all of those great ideas fall to the wayside (and new friends fall back into the grind also!). Now you begin to wonder whether it was worth all that money.

It was refreshing to be a part of Connected PE’s approach to PL - a free online conference spread across 7 days with 21 presenters. What an awesome opportunity to be a part of some fantastic and free PL. I also got a better understanding of the Connected PE Community and was excited to hear and read about the resources, training and support provided within that community. The Connected PE Community goes some way to addressing some of the concerns I have with traditional PL. Jarrod Robinson is well known for his fantastic curriculum knowledge and application of technology in the classroom, but I think he deserves recognition for thinking outside the box when it comes to PL! I wonder how long it will take for other learning areas to reconsider their approach and provide similar opportunities to what Connected PE does?!

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