"The enormous lake stretched flat and smooth and white all the way to the edge of the gray sky. Wagon tracks went away across it, so far that you could not see where they went; they ended in nothing at all."
--Laura Ingalls Wilder
When I was a little girl, I was enthralled by the stories of Laura Ingalls Wilder-each "Little House" book immersed me in Laura's adventures; the triumphs and trials of everyday living; the trails and travels into the new and unknown. Through it all, Laura's experiences were not hers alone: she was surrounded by a family and community that valued hard-work, collaboration, and relationships. I recall with fondness how I admired the ingenuity of these people who left behind what was familiar and established--to forge new possibilities in faraway places that they could hardly envision.
This is where the PD frontier takes us--gone are the days when our professional growth is limited to a state-mandated number of hours to be "trained" by sitting in metal chairs, provided with a ten-pound binder of materials while listening to a presenter tell us how to be be better educators. Gone are the days when we took those binders back to our classrooms, put them on the shelf next to the others, closed our doors, and continued to teach as we always had. Maybe we tried a thing or two we learned, but did we feel like much had changed? And if it did, how did we know?
Progress is being made. Like the railroads creating an alternative to the isolated and slow-going wagon trains, many schools are now embracing some form of Professional Learning Communities so that educators can collaborate, plan, and problem-solve. Risky for many, but is it enough for those of us who keep wondering what is beyond where the wagon trail ends?
The PD frontier is open to our interests, curiosities, our own professional wanderlusts. And we are not limited to the speed of a covered wagon, following the tracks of those who went before us. The Wild Wild West (WWW) has created a vast open land that we can travel through 24/7 via numerous social networks, blogs, webinars, MOOCs and chats. And, like Laura, you are not alone in this excursion. The PD Posse is a collaborative community of educators committed to learning, relationships, and professional growth.
Join us in 2014 as we explore new trails together, going beyond the edge of those settled areas of professional learning. So, grab your boots and get ready to go to...the PD frontier!