Ayanna Cooper / September 13, 2012

Originally published here September 4, 2012 at TESOL International Association’s blog

Welcome to the online discussion about Professional Development on a shoestring budget! When reflecting on Rehab Rajab’s article I thought a lot about the ways in which I participate in low cost professional development activities. I have to admit although I don’t have a Facebook, Twitter, or Linked In account (shocking – right?!) I do visit blogs, wikis, watch online webinars, and, most important, I value my Professional Learning Community. Rehab stated it best: “A PLN is . . . everyone and everything around us that we learn from.” With that definition in mind I’d like to describe a recent conversation I had with a colleague.

On a recent trip to Boston I had the opportunity to carpool with a colleague of mine to a workshop we were both attending. She picked me up, I treated for two coffees and two donuts ($5.69), and we were on our way. The conversation started by catching up on just about everything–life, kids, our careers, shopping, my daughter’s Spanish III class, her daughter’s duel language school, and eventually academic language. Of course academic language fits in there nicely! She told me about professional development she had recently organized within her district, who the facilitators were, what they did and what the participants got out of the sessions. She even offered to share the handouts and PowerPoint presentations with me.

We really connected on several points that morning: the need for highly engaging relevant professional development; experts who are approachable, personable, and willing to mentor our generation of educator-advocates; and having a genuine desire to improve the lives of English learners.  That was the best $5.69 I’ve spent in a long time! I recently received an email from her about a handout that she wasn’t able to receive from our workshop. I quickly emailed the lead presenter and forwarded the handout to her. She replied.

I really value my PLC. Can you tell me about yours?