Do-It-Yourself Professional Development

Do it yourself PDIn my personal experience, as a teacher and even as an instructional coach, rarely did I ever participate in mandatory professional development (PD) that truly met my needs.

If you have taught for any number of years you know that PD is not one-size fits all.

When I was working on my master’s degree in educational leadership, this was a topic we often discussed.  There is teacher outcry for PD that is timely, relevant, and engaging. Perhaps you are one of those teachers crying out for PD that will meet your need and better equip you to met the diverse needs of your students.

It baffles me that despite what we know about differentiating instruction, that we have not paid greater attention to how we professionally develop teachers. I had the privilege of working with one administrators that strives to empower teachers to seek out their own learning.

At the end of the school year, she created an open-ended summer staff development plan.  She offered teachers two summer PD options, Option 1: Sign-up and attend district professional development sessions or Option 2: Choose a topic or something you want to learn more about to help you grow as a teacher and earn PD credit for it. Guess what option most teachers chose?  Option 1!

I was very surprised with the numbers my administrator shared with me.  Only a handful of teachers opted to take charge of their own learning.  I asked myself why? The answer is simple, they don’t know how.

DIY: Do-It-Yourself

I am a huge advocate for taking PD into your own hands. I often tell teachers, “Do not wait for your administrator or school district to develop you professionally”.  This is something no one can do for you, it is a DIY ongoing project.  It takes time and effort, but it is the only way you will get your professional needs met.  Your development and growth as a teacher does not end when you get your teaching credential.

But I don’t have time! 

The most frequent excuse I hear from teachers for not connecting with others in their field outside of school or taking the time to learn something new is, “I don’t have time.”

My response: We all get the same 24 hours in a day, after all, no one gets extra hours.  We can’t save up time in a bottle and use it later. We can’t stop time, and we certainly cannot create addition time.  The only thing we can do with time is use it. We decide how we use the 24 hours that we are do you use your time

It is interesting to me how we always seem to have time to do the things we want to do. You may have a very full schedule but if you want to catch the newest blockbuster movie, you will organize your day and time so that you not only make it to the movie, but get there early enough to stand in line, grab some popcorn and get a good seat. How do you use your time?

Get Connected 

The most impactful thing you can do in your career as an educator is to connect with other passionate educators. In the upcoming weeks I will share my own personal journey and how I became a connected educator.  For now reflect on the PD you’ve had this past year.  Did they give you the “What” and “Why” but not the “How”? What have you done personally to develop professionally? Is there something you’ve wanted to learn that you have been putting off?




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  • Reply
    Sebrina Burke
    July 14, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    You are so right regarding PD that is relevant and engaging for teachers. Very rarely does district provided PD provide the “How.” Connecting through online relationships such as teacher blogs, provides many opportunities to delve into the “how” things are done. I am looking forward to more information from you on this subject!
    Burke’s Special Kids

    • Reply
      Nancy Alvarez
      July 16, 2014 at 8:30 am

      Thank you for your comments Sebrina. PLNs are very powerful.

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