Continue to grow individual roles as lifelong learners
Increase educator ability to better serve the student population
Create an intrinsic drive for progress, which in turn raises the bar for performance
Encourage a culture centered on motivation and improvement
For experienced Educators, the calendar reminder for upcoming “PD” may often lack the excitement it once provoked. Instead, they might think about sitting in the gym, listening to a vendor teach them how to use some device they sold the district, and meanwhile they’d rather have the time back in their day for things more relevant to them personally. But wait, shouldn’t “PD” actually develop people professionally? When did “PD” stop meaning what it actually means?
In no other industry is it considered a waste of time to develop yourself professionally. If you have a new skill you’d like to learn or an organization method you’d like to implement, you get some professional development and you grow yourself in that way. Education should be no different. The precious time an educator devotes to professional development should actually help them develop as educators. That’s not to say vendors can’t be a part of that, but regardless of internal or external focus, it’s imperative that time be well spent to help us grow within our respective areas. For some that may mean an online course in time management to better run their day. For others, that may mean a conference with sessions on implementing a flipped classroom environment in a district where many students don’t have internet access at home. And for others, it may be leadership training as they take on more responsibility on their way to becoming a campus principal.
Yes, training is still important – especially when the software or hardware is required – but more than just training on new purchases, let’s make “PD” something we look forward to because it adds value, helps us grow, and betters us as educators. In return, we can better impact the lives of those in our care.
One of the most fabulous advantages of the age in which we live is the connectivity we find online and our ability to reach a like-minded community at any time. The opportunities for personal discovery and advancement through blogs and social media are a portal to growth unlike ever before. Effective educators recognize that just like the team that supports each and every student, it is also possible to create a team of support for yourself. Whether it is through professional learning communities on your campus, #edchats on Twitter, virtual book clubs or even one’s parent network, the camaraderie and unique support necessary to thrive in education is available simply by making one’s growth a priority and reaching out.
It might be surprising to think about parents as an important component of the professional development process, but parents are, in fact, integral to educator success. Identifying hurdles common to your set of students is one of the first steps in identifying and then utilizing professional development resources that address your unique challenges – and ultimately moves the needle for your students. Viewing each student holistically requires healthy relationships with parents and families. At the end of the day, professional development is an effort to improve teaching in order to improve student success. Why then, would professional development start anywhere besides the core of the student’s life?