I have a huge passion for learning and teaching in rural Northland - this is the only place I have ever taught, so I claim no expertise for learning and teaching in urban areas. One of the beauties and the challenges of working in rural schools is the distance from cities, but with this comes a lack of access to some of the provisions that schools in urban centres enjoy.
Working in a PLD programme that is running from year to year, one of my major foci is how to both achieve sustainability of the programme within a school and build capacity for teachers to access learning beyond what they might already access, not just f2f but also in blended ways. In my initial scoping work some of the teachers remarked that their rural location diminished access to PLD. As we are talking about relatively small schools, even within a schools teachers can be isolated, there might just be one Music / PE / foreign language teacher etc. within a school, and they can find it hard to find people with a similar interest to bounce ideas off etc. within their immediate surroundings.
My inquiry this year will look at how I can support the schools I work with to connect with PLD in blended ways. Questions I am looking at are: Why do we undertake PD? What are different forms of PD, why use blended learning? How do I pick the right PD for myself as teacher, and what do I need to make it happen? What do I as facilitator need to do in my practise to build capacity in my schools for accessing blended learning for teachers when this is the right tool? With the introduction of N4L schools will be in a better position in relation to infrastructure to access blended learning, which should make things a little easier in that regard.
At the Digital Horizons Conference in Whangarei last Friday I held a workshop about Building you Online PLN which I think is one of the ways of how I can build this capacity. What else could I be doing? What else would you find helpful?