Lindsay Brazell

Music Educator and Creative Professional

Get One Last Profesional Development Session…From Your Couch!

School is soon to be in session, as exciting or daunting as that may be! As you prepare your classroom and materials, and perhaps even attend some inservice meetings at your school or district, I encourage you to do one more ounce of professional development.

But I want you to do it from your couch.

That’s right. Stay in your pajamas, make a cup of coffee, and open your computer or mobile device. It sounds luxurious, doesn’t it?

You may or may not be aware of the PD opportunities right at your finger tips! The internet is a wonderful place, and social media has made it possible to connect with all kinds of educators and administrators from around the country, and even around the world.

Here are 2 questions that may have popped into your head thus far:

  1. Why is my school and district PD not enough?
  2. What about recertification credits?

Good questions!

Your school and district PD may be enough for sure. Or, it could be completely irrelevant to you. Arts and music educations often ride the not-applicable-to-my-life train during most school and district sessions, so when there aren’t any major conferences from our professional organizations coming up, some couch PD may be the answer! Connecting with other music educators to exchange ideas and current trends could be far more valuable to you than sitting and learning the new teacher web page procedures at your school. (Because come on, a handout would suffice, rather than a 45-minute session on the order of buttons to click…)

You do raise a good question about recertification credits, however. I can see why sessions that give you credit would be more attractive than one that would not. While most of my couch PD solutions will not be recertification worthy, there is one option I will share with you in a bit! Keep reading!

In order to fully participate in couch PD, you’ll need some social media profiles on the following platforms: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. If there is one that I highly recommend and borderline require of you, it would be Twitter.

Twitter is not just 140 characters of mindless chatter…all the time. There is a huge community of educators that share ideas, ask questions, and encourage each other daily. The best feature of Twitter though, are the organized chats. Forget the days of the AOL chatrooms, and say hello to the hashtag conversations.

These hashtag conversations, or Twitter Chats, are both scheduled chats and ongoing conversation, meaning you can post tweets to those hashtags all day long, but also sit down at a designated time to live chat with those participating. My favorite hashtags for music education are:

#MusEdChat (Mondays, 8pm ET)

#MusicEd

#ArtsEd

#MusoChat (Some Sundays, 9pm ET)

Some of these have actual live twitter chats as seen in the parenthesis, but you can post to those hashtags whenever! I’ve been participating in #MusEdChat (more loyally in the early years) since I was in college, which was a great place for me to learn about the profession before I even had a teaching certificate! Pre-service teachers can learn a lot just from conversing weekly with practicing educators.

Maybe Twitter isn’t your thing, or perhaps you are equally active on Facebook. That’s totally cool. There are a ton of educators on Facebook too, and you can find them in designated groups. There are groups for choir directors, band directors, orchestral directors, elementary educators…literally every possibility! Some professional organizations even have Facebook groups, like ACDA! Join some of those groups and ask questions, answer the questions of others, or share some new ideas with the community!

Finally, we have Instagram! In between taking pictures of food and pretty places, check out similar hashtags to twitter, like #education or #classroom, and you’ll be bound to find either some images or links to posts from educators. Instagram provides a visual look into classrooms or rehearsals, which is somewhat unique from the other social media platforms. Sometimes I peruse Instagram to find rehearsal spaces to see how other directors organize their classrooms.

Lastly, there’s this awesome organization called Participate. The first thing you should do is download their app because it has every Twitter chat catalogued by subject or grade level. It’s amazing! You can participate (now I know how they got their name…) right from the app!

If you explore their website a little further, there are recertification courses you can take! How great is that? Earning recertification credits on your couch sounds like a dream doesn’t it?

I encourage you to do some couch PD before your students arrive. Whether it’s following a hashtag on Twitter, joining a Facebook group, scrolling through Instagram, or taking a course on Participate, there is value to be had in couch PD for you and your students.

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/byrawpixel/

About Lindsay

I’m Lindsay, a choral music educator by day, a singer-songwriter by evening, and a writer when time allows. You can find my latest album, The Room I Found – Lindsay Morelli on iTunes.

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