Professional Generosity

I love that term, professional generosity. I first saw it as the tagline, “Practicing Professional Generosity”, on Lucy Gray’s blog and that phrase has stuck with me ever since. It reminds us to “pay it forward” with regard to our knowledge, expertise, and experience. A PLN is a global example of this, in my opinion, but I had a wonderful experience with professional generosity much closer to home.

On Twitter, about a month or so ago, a local ed-tech colleague was looking for some inexpensive summer professional development for her staff. With budget cuts hitting all of us I thought I would follow this thread and see what I could learn and use for my district. Next thing I know we created a Google Doc of people in the area that would be willing to travel to nearby districts and offer PD with the expectation of benefitting from someone else’s expertise at another time in their district. Basically, I come help you out, someone helps me out, and so it goes…Pay it Forward! I have participated in this kind of situation before, but was excited to see a collection of people willing to participate.

We were on the receiving end of this idea yesterday. Erica Roberts came to teach our tech staff how to use iMovie 09. Now this is not earth-shattering, change the world stuff, but it is something we all have been “meaning to learn” but have never quite found the time to do so. Erica spent about 3 hours working with our tech staff modeling, guiding, helping, and converting us (from iMovie HD users) to the point where we can open the program, know what is going on, and even instruct and troubleshoot with students. My tech staff found Erica to be highly knowledgeable and easy to work with. In short, they loved the training and loved her!

For me, the biggest take-away was how amazing it was that Erica probably spent more in gas to drive to my district than I did on her Panera lunch. And for what? To share her time, talent, and expertise with a group of folks who needed it. Is there the expectation that Erica and her colleagues will be on the receiving end of some of this professional generosity? Maybe. But I don’t think that was Erica’s true motivation.

We are very lucky to have a deep pool of ed tech talent in my area. But think about how this could be done via Skype. Charlene Chausis recently shared an experience with me where she invited Katie Morrow to Skype into Charlene’s high school to work with her teachers. I have used Skype to connect classrooms, but hadn’t thought about using it as a PD tool in this way.

A big THANKS to Erica and to all the teachers and ed tech folks in my PLN who exercise professional generosity every day.