Such a simple word for a powerful process. Advancement, improvement, rise, success, gain, prosperity, maturing, evolution, all words used to describe becoming more than you were before. In teaching, we have this wonderful tool for growth called Professional Development. Opportunities to learn and to grow by surrounding ourselves with new ideas or new ways to approach old problems.
There are plenty of ways to pursue PD
- Classic PD– Meetings or seminars put on by other teachers or guest speakers that are “experts” in their field. I use quotation marks around experts because I find that most presenters that are authorities in their field do not like the term expert as it carries a connotation of finality in growth. I know my dear friend Dr.Mary does not prefer the term. I think lead learner might be more appropriate, or maybe Guiding Guru? Haha regardless the classic PD model is a great way to learn new things or reinforce what you are doing.
- Conferences– I love conferences. Multiple options to attend and learn from. TOns of other teachers to discuss new learnings with. Usually a little bit expensive but if you have the means to do it, totally worth it. Just make sure you choose wisely. I went to a conference once that had a great Keynote but otherwise…I did a lot of planning.
- Twitter PD– My new favourite. Following hashtags, with education themes, you can learn a ton and meet awesome people. My #curiositycrew is the best and there are so many great EDU chats that you can learn so much from. Check out #g2great #masterychat and #tellyourstory for some great chats during the week. All the chats modelled after the Dave Burgess Teach Like a Pirate series are winners as well.
- Edcamps (Teacher Directed)– I love teacher directed PD. On a school-based level or division, it is really powerful PD to allow teachers to guide their own learning.
There are more options than this but all these ways are a great starting point for PD. The other day in a meeting I made the statement that if we are not reflective teachers we are bad teachers. I include myself in this. If I am not taking the time to learn, to reflect and find ways to grow I can’t possibly be the best teacher for my students. Limiting our growth to the “right now” instead of looking at the tomorrow will leave us unprepared to address the needs of 21-century learners.
Growth is natural, stagnation is not. In nature once something stops growing it dies. When we stop utilizing PD opportunities the growing stops. Our teaching ages and we find ourselves out of touch. My dear friend Mary still learns every day and she will proudly demand to not be called an expert. She is a lifelong learner. I never want to claim I can not learn from those around me who are also trying to grow.
Like a snake shedding its skin to come out renewed or a phoenix rising from the ashes of outdated teaching, we need to embrace opportunities to grow, to transform and to learn. If we do not how can we ask our students to do the same?