Cohort 21: A year-long PD experience

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This year, I’m taking part in a year-long, embedded PD experience called Cohort 21. Run by two EdTech gurus, and an incredible group of facilitators and coaches, Cohort 21 gives educators in Ontario the chance to examine their practice, discuss pedagogy, learn about new and innovative technology tools, and to make connections across schools.

As well as learning about new ways to use EdTech, and think about how we teach and assess students, as part of my Cohort 21 participation I’m required to develop and research an action plan. It can be on anything related to my practice, from student assessment and feedback, to a new technology tool I’d like to try with my classes to designing an online course. I have decided to focus on our library schedule and booking system, and how I can make it more efficient and accessible to faculty. I’ve written about my library schedule before; I am a paper schedule user. We run a fixed and flexible schedule concurrently in the Lassonde Library, and I’ve found that on the whole, a paper schedule works well for us. We like the opportunity to have conversations with teachers about their classes and assignments when they call in to book time with us, but we know this can be inconvenient for teachers who are used to booking services online. In particular, this year we seem to be trying to keep track of too much; we have two librarians, four potential ‘bookable spaces’ in the library, iPads, and Chromebooks, often all in different places at the same time. This is a week in our booking schedule from November. It’s becoming a little unwieldy.

library_schedule Nov15

My initial thoughts about a new solution for a library schedule can be seen here, on my Cohort 21 blog. During our second Face to Face session, we used the Design Thinking method to think deeply about our action plan topics; you can read how I’m starting to research what solution might be best for us. You can also read a detailed walk-through of the Design Thinking process and my thoughts about a re-designed library schedule here; you’ll see I’m still seeking the ‘answer’ – if, indeed, there is an answer!

(Aside: If you’re interested in Design Thinking, and how you can use it in your library, check out the AISL 2016 Summer Institute.)

One of my favourite things about Cohort 21 is the people! Collaboration is key in being a successful librarian, and Cohort 21 has allowed me to network and collaborate with teachers outside my school – the members this year teach across all grades and disciplines. There are two librarians taking part this year (me and Jen Weening from Country Day School). A number of librarians have participated in Cohort 21 since it began in 2012 – click on their name to see their action plan and final reflections: Tim Hutton from RSGC, Sara Spencer from The York School and Laura Mustard from St. Clement’s.

When I first joined Cohort 21, I thought it was all about using technology in the classroom; something I’m comfortable with, and love to experiment with. But Cohort 21 is so much more. It’s about being a better teacher, being more responsive to my students and their needs, learning about what is happening in the classroom across the province and being the best teacher I can be. Our third Face to Face session is coming up at the end of January; we’ll be working further on our action plans, and talking about where to go from here.

You may find the following resources useful:

Cohort 21 twitter feed, hashtag: #cohort21
Cohort 21 website, action plans, member blogs

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4 Responses to Cohort 21: A year-long PD experience

  1. Dave Wee says:

    Dear Claire,
    Please get out of my head! Actually, thank you for sharing a bit about your scheduling challenges. We have 2 librarians, 3 teaching spaces, and a laptop cart. We schedule elementary, middle, and high school classes and all three schools are on different schedules. My colleague has just spent the past hour+ attempting to sort out and address our scheduling conflicts. Something has to change and your post has made me realize that the time to start working on addressing a change (whatever it turns out to be) is now! Please update us on your progress and your results as they emerge!

  2. Claire Hazzard says:

    Ha! Will keep you updated. But so much to consider!

  3. Jan Campbell says:

    Thanks for speaking so positively about the Cohort 21 experience. You are absolutely right; the experience is much less about the technology and so much more about collaboration and being responsive to the 21C learner.

  4. Derek Doucet says:

    Claire – great share! I love how you connected anyone who follows you to the other C21 Alumni #actionplans! What a great way to build community and it’s the people around you who will continue to push you to grow and try new things – that’s my C21 difference! Every year my PLN grows and I get inspired to hear about all the great things people are doing at their schools.

    It’ll be nice that your actionplan will tackle an issue you’re having in your school, I’d love to hear about it. Looking forward to tomorrow!

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