Professional Development (PD) is one of those topics that can mean many different things to many different people. As a teacher, you may dread the word as you reflect on wasted sessions spent exploring topics of no interest to you or that offer any benefit to your students. Maybe the mention of PD reminds you of Fridays without students, spent rehashing the same issues in staff meetings and accomplishing nothing that helped you grow within your practice. If you are lucky, maybe you can recall an opportunity you have had that allowed you amazing professional development that inspired you and helped shape who you are as a teacher today.
I’ve always been eager to learn new techniques, strategies and research that can improve or transform my prior knowledge. In the classroom, applying what I learned to improve my practice was fun, even when it didn’t work! I was also eager to share what I had learned and attempted with others, teaching and encouraging my colleagues along the way. I’ve witnessed the joy and excitement when teachers feel value in the sharing process….I’ve also watched the eye rolling and disengagement for those sitting in sessions wondering why, once again, their precious time appears to be wasted.
The last couple of days, training with my new team members in my new Consultant role, I’ve been reminded again how important it is for teachers to continue to grow and challenge themselves for the benefit of our students. Classroom teachers have the biggest impact on student learning, it is extremely important that they are ready for that challenge!
Over the last few years, my focus has been to show colleagues that PD really is at the tip of our fingers. The internet has offered us the platform to learn anything, to collaborate with others and to do it all at times when it works best for us! No longer do we need to arrange meetings, attend conferences or sit thru general staff PD in hopes of hearing a small tidbit of information that may work for you. With the help of Google, You Tube and Twitter, PD opportunities are everywhere at anytime!
As I dive deeper into my new position, I hope to demonstrate the power of self directed PD, the excitement of collaborative inquiry and the realization that we have the power to improve our practices to improve student learning. I want to show you that the idea of Professional Development is not just an activity but a state of mind.