One thing I miss from when I was teaching last year is professional development (PD) sessions. Gathering with teachers and individuals and discussing education topics and learning about new things is a great experience. As a substitute teacher, the current division I am in does not offer professional development to those other than full-time teaching staff and administration. I don’t know if other divisions in Saskatchewan include their substitute teachers in PD sessions.
Today I was talking with a fellow substitute teacher and she was saying that this is one of the things she was hoping to partake in this year and in the future. She loves learning, as do I, and wants to continue to grow as an educator and to learn with and from those in our division.
It is great that teachers have development days and I understand that some of the pd days are school specific and where teachers are working on specific goals and or learning topics. However, I also know that there are days when all of the schools gather together to learn and where guest presenters are brought in. Substitute teachers can benefit from both of these opportunities. It would be nice to be included. It would be nice to receive a note that there are learning sessions happening and that we could have the opportunity to attend. I find myself wanting to keep up with what is happening in the schools I am in, what is happening in education and the ways in which we teach and help our students learn, but mostly, I want to keep learning. I guess I also want to feel that I belong to this group of professional educators.
Conferences and events that are put on in the province are great and are definitely worth attending, however as a teacher without my own classroom and one who feels like I am often managing classes and supervising students while they work and complete assignments as opposed to teaching them each day, I often feel uncomfortable in and or question my identity as a teacher. I know that I am a qualified and educated professional and teacher. I don’t have my own classroom and that is one area I struggle with and it leads to me feeling that I don’t belong in a room full of teachers. This leads me to question whether I belong there at these types of learning events, to be in the room with teachers who teach in their own classrooms.
I am however grateful for the online opportunities I have that come from a network of educators that I follow and learn from. I even know some of them on a personal level as opposed just knowing them online. I feel that even though I am a substitute teacher right now, I am still able to contribute ideas and learn alongside them.
Blogs, online articles, Google Groups, Twitter chats, reading tweets and articles and connecting this way has provided me with lots of resources and information that continues to challenge my thoughts on education and how we teach. It is in this space that I continue to learn. This may also me part of my motivation for taking part in #dcmooc this spring. I am truly grateful that I have this opportunity to learn from others online, but sometimes the personal contact of gathering in a room, having vocal discussions and meeting face-to-face is something that I miss.