Last night, I had an epiphany regarding the polar vortex that is descending upon much of the United States right now. On Monday, we had a significant snowfall here in Chicago and temperatures are rapidly dropping to historic lows. Tomorrow the temperature is expected to be around -13 F which is -25 C, but when accounting for the wind chill, it will feel like anywhere between -30 and -60 degrees (-35 to -50 C approximately). Yikes! Apparently, we should be getting used to this phenomenon.
My school, along with most around here, have announced that they will be closed for the next two days. Many of these school were also closed on Monday due to the snow. As an ed tech director, I'm always thinking about how to move innovation forward in my school and about how I can build enthusiasm among my colleagues for leveraging technology in teaching and learning. Time for providing support for this kind of work is scarce and precious, and it occurred to me last night that teachers now had two days in front of them where they might be willing to engage in some professional learning. I know that other educators around the country have hosted spur of the moment virtual professional development sessions from time to time, and so I put out feelings on Facebook and Twitter to see if any adventurous educators would join forces to host live PD via my Zoom video conferencing room. Alas, I think many people in my professional learning network work were too frozen to be as enthusiastic as I about this idea!
Then, I thought of a self-directed PD model that was popular a few years ago... not sure if it's 21 Things or 23 Things... but the general gist was to give teachers a list of tasks to explore at their own pace. I also thought about how it's essential that professional development be fun and personal; teachers are more motivated to take risks with educational technology when there is some connection to their professional practice and they have some choice in activities. As a result, I came up with five activities that I thought might be interested in my PreK-12 colleagues and created the following flyer. My hope is that they save a bit of time over the next two days to try at least one of these activities.
I'm thinking that I should develop a similar list for students and parents that I can update and re-purpose from time to time. Do you have any other creative ideas for encouraging teachers to make use of school closing days? Share them in the comments or on Twitter using the hashtag #PolarVortexPD !