Professional Development and the Value of Informal Learning

Last Week I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a couple hours with two of my heroes. Two of my role models in the field I work in. I was able to have an unscripted conversation with Alan Levine and Jim Groom. It was informal. Sometimes we learn a lot in that environment.

You can listen to some of the conversation here

http://faculty.yc.edu/tconaway/strawberry.mp3

As a teacher I know the value of encouragement. I know the value of allowing students to share their aspirations and dreams and that I need to value those as well. In school we give extra credit to the student who goes beyond the expectations and accepting and valuing the learning they do outside of the classroom. In informal settings.

We have no place, no ability to compensate, no structure surrounding that part of professional development. Had I spoken with Alan and Jim at a table in a college classroom might that have been accepted as professional development? In a bar? Does the location of the conversation matter?

As it stands the conversations I had with my role models is logged as “vacation” time on my time card. How inspiring is that the next time I find the chance to sit and talk with leaders in the industry? Sorry if I am whining…

Jim Groom told me professional development is a state of mind. Well, I am all good with that. I hope that the educational environment can help make that part of the culture of the schooling and leadership they are responsible for.