In my last post, I spoke of the need for supportive professional learning environments to allow the DNA of initial teacher education to be expressed. To extend the metaphor, these PLN environments need the ribosomes of PL events like #PLSM13 to allow the code of pedagogical creativity to burst out as well as the ability for the hybrid PLN system to continue learning (epigenetics). Apologies in advance for any errors in genetic concepts but the memory of my Biol101 from 1985 is fading fast and I am using it as a metaphor, OK?
First, lets talk about the ribosome of PL that is Project Learning Swap Meet, or #PLSM13. As I sat there watching Bianca and Lee Hewes conduct a very credible, practical and most enjoyable professional learning day, I thought to myself how far we have come in the game of professional learning for teachers. The event was on a Saturday in a room at the very cool PHM provided by the wonderful Peter Mahoney attended by teachers from all sectors and levels and was driven by innovations in project learning that had been achieved in classrooms by teachers. How very different to the compulsory PD days that I was forced to attend 20 years ago as a primary school teacher!
The pedagogy of the swapmeet was superb with the relaxed conversational style employed by the Hewes encouraging teachers to explore ideas and ask questions. The middle, speed-dating sessions created a real buzz that fed into the project design and gallery sessions in the afternoon. How very clever of the designers to put the sharing session in the afternoon when people at orthodox conferences try to sneak out of yet another boring keynote! As a result, I felt as a participant that I better understood both the theory and practice of project learning after this great day!
My final metaphorical play is a provocation about epigenetics, which describes the ability of a system to learn throughout the lifespan. The unconference movement is the bold and oh so needed new kid on the block in teacher professional learning. My provocation is where to next after the initial fervour of TeachMeets and SwapMeets began to become a little old. How will this hybrid PL network evolve to cater for the differential ability of the teachers who attend (acknowledged at the #plsm13 through the wearing of stickers to denote familiarity with project learning)? It’s exciting not knowing the answer and realizing that it is in the hands of the teachers at long last!