When many teachers visualize “professional development” they likely envision a regularly scheduled event that shows a group of teachers being guided through the implementation of a specific initiative, strategy, or framework.
This may also include small group meetings like PLCs where teachers are scheduled a time to collaboratively analyze data and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction in their classroom.
This type of professional development certainly has its place in schools. However, it is often criticized for not meeting the individual needs of teachers.
As educators, we recognize the importance of differentiating in our classrooms, but we also know how challenging this can be. Consider the challenge it is for an administrative team to lead an organized professional development that addresses the needs of every staff member in its building.
While participating in building and district professional development is important, as educators, we should consider additional ways to take ownership of our own professional development to create relevant and useful learning opportunities.
This does NOT mean a teacher should plan to spend every waking hour researching the newest strategy or looking for the latest technology app… a healthy balance of professional and personal life is very necessary. Be sure to find the balance.
I am fortunate to work in a district that gives its teachers many opportunities to pursue the learning they want or need and to develop these professional skills through conferences, books studies, and district organized courses (Read more about this: CBU allows teachers to sharpens skills).
However, there are many opportunities for teachers to seek personalized professional development that meets their needs.
Whether you can dedicate 1 hour a week or 15 minutes a day, there is a way to take ownership of your professional development.
1. Create a Personal Learning Community using Social Media
Connecting with other educators on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or other platforms can give you an opportunity to learn from others who are faced with the same challenges as you on a daily basis. While you are catching up on the latest pictures posted by your friends and family, you might also come across a shared blog post about a great classroom management strategy. Delve into the article right then or save it for later when you have some downtime or are ready to try it!
2. Attend Education Conferences
Need some new ideas or inspiration? Conferences can be the best place to listen to what is working for other educators and consider ways to make it happen in your classroom! Even if your school doesn’t have a budget to send you across the country, search for local conferences on whatever interests you… technology? content? educational leadership? Conferences can be an awesome place to connect with others and get a new perspective!
3. Find a Book
Sometimes reading a new perspective (or being reminded of great ideas from the past) can be the inspiration a teacher needs to recharge. Ask your colleagues or administration for a reading suggestion and challenge yourself to take something away from the book. It can be even more powerful to read it with colleagues and collaborate on how to integrate it into your instruction. (Recently, I gained many ideas and insights from Making Thinking Visible & Guided Instruction.)
4. Find Free Online Training
You can find free inspiration, courses, and materials all over the internet. Follow some education blogs, search for free materials, or find some tutorials on YouTube.
Think of your professional development as a state of mind, not an event.
Read more about taking ownership of your professional development:
- 9 Quick Tips for Taking Ownership of Your PD
- How Teachers Are Learning: Professional Development Remix
- Free Professional Development -ASCD
Keep the conversation going…
- How do you take ownership of your own professional development?
- What hashtags do you follow to stay recharged and fresh in the classroom?
- What challenges are there when managing your own professional development?
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