Since my first year teaching, professional development has always been one of my true passions. I’ve devoured countless books on reading, writing, math, brain research, classroom management, you name it, and I’ve read it. I feel that this professional development is part of what has allowed me to still feel passion and excitement toward teaching, even after 12 years in the classroom.
When I first read Angel Watson’s newest book Unshakeable, I was so happy to seen an entire chapter dedicated toward professional development. I knew that would be a section of the book that would be near and dear to my heart.
I agree that one of the fastest ways to lose your motivation and passion as a teacher is to allow yourself to get in a rut and to do the same things over and over year after year. I have to change things up to keep myself on my toes and at the top of my game. Of course, I’m not saying that I completely change everything year after year. Instead, I like to find one or two areas that I want to improve on and I learn all that I can on those specific areas. I get overwhelmed when I try to take on too much too soon.
Too often the term “professional development” results in groans and eye rolls, because let’s face it, we’ve all sat in countless meetings listening to a speaker drone on and on about something we really don’t care about. However, true professional development should consist of what YOU are passionate about. When your learning about what inspires you, that professional development isn’t mundane, boring, or draining. It’s uplifting, encouraging, and you can’t wait to learn more. Don’t wait on your school or district to provide that professional development. You have to be the one to take charge, because we all have our own passions and learning needs.
One great way way to encourage professional development is through a Professional Learning Network (PLN). Informal chats with coworkers and others who understand your teaching environment can be a great source of professional development. You can meet with teachers from your area to discuss common trends in your schools. These meetings can be fun, informal, and will certainly require a nice cup of coffee.
I’ve found a tremendous support system through social media outlets. There are blogs, forums, and Facebook groups just for teachers, and I’ve received so much support and advice from each of the platforms. I think it’s important to remember to focus on finding positive and uplifting groups, not groups where the only conversations are complaints where people are torn down, rather than lifted up and encouraged. Negativity needs to be avoided at almost all cost.
If you’re fortunate enough to be able to attend a conference, be sure to do your homework! No one wants to spend money to hear a speaker that bores them to tears. Ask around, read reviews, follow the presenter on social media to get an idea of the conference is right for you.
When reading the book, I was fascinated about the concept of educamps. I had never heard the term or concept before, so that may be my next professional learning project! If you have any experience with this, I’d love to hear about it!
I’m a reader, so even though it’s basic, my favorite form of professional develop is just reading new books. I don’t read a lot of professional books during the school year, but I do try to make up for lost time over the summer! I think it would be so much fun to join a book club to share this learning with other teachers. I’ve seen these done through blogs, email, and actual meetings.
I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed Angela’s book. She really did an amazing job giving practical advice and strategies to allow teachers to become “unshakeable” in their professions. You can find the book on Amazon by clicking the picture below.
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