I just got back from BIT14, and – as always happens after attending a conference full of beautiful educational minds – I am energized! Many people have said, that to make PD worthwhile you should take two things from your PD and put them into your practice. My first is to take that scary first step into professional blogging and commenting. A special thank you goes out to Aviva Dunslinger and Jonathan So for their presentation at BIT14, which opened my eyes to the rich discussions that can be developed through blogging, and to Peter LeBlanc for the comment after their workshop pushing me towards writing my first post.

It has been less than a week since BIT14 ended and my head is still a cosmic soup of good ideas and good intentions that are swirling together and slowly gravitating towards implementation or the back burner. Here are the notions that keep slamming into one another, trying to form into concrete ideas: PLNs, keeping the conversation going, professional dialogue, infecting new people.

At BIT14 there was an interesting alcove where a variety of predetermined topics were discussed. This alcove was labelled “The Learning Space.” A colleague of mine told me about stumbling upon a wonderful conversation there, and mentioned how he wasn’t sure if he could stay; he was in that awkward situation where you hear something of interest, you want to add your perspective (or possibly just listen to see where the conversation is heading), but you are unsure if new voices are welcomed. Luckily one of the facilitators gave him a nod and a gestured for him to sit down.

That night at home, I was cruising my online PLNs and I came across a good conversation between former and current program department staff from UGDSB in a Google+ Community (UGDSB Online Math Community) I had been neglecting. I didn’t enter into the conversation last night, but now I am kicking myself. If I want to become a better educator, I need to put forth my perspective and allow my ideas to be critiqued and evaluated so I can grow. A growth mindset is so important; if you begin to blog with a fixed mindset, the first constructive criticism you encounter will be seen as an attack and you will stop posting and commenting. I am going to go back tonight and throw my voice into the mix. Please feel free to check up on me, make me accountable, and add your voice as well.

In their roles this sort of discussion is the norm. How – across the board – can we begin and foster these discussions so that more and more teachers are participating?

The title of the post is planted firmly in irony. These conversations are very public. In fact, the conversationalists want people to enter into their dialogue. So the question I would like to ask is how do we invite more people into these spaces? How do we create time in our work and home life, to enter into these conversations?

If we want to make changes to the educational system as a whole, then we not only have to work towards a vision of how students interact and exist in this space, but we also have to revolutionize how teachers, EAs, and administrators interact and exist in this space as well. For example, we can reinvent how the time at staff meetings, division meetings, and PD days is used so all teachers can develop and interact with their PLN. Teachers also need to look at their routines – especially at school – and stop doing some things to create time and space for professional dialogue.