As part of the #edublogclub year-long challenge to blog on education, this week’s topic was around wishes, dreams, and hopes for professional development.
This topic has tentacles professionally for me: I am a deliverer of professional development within and outside of my district and to receivers other than my actual profession, I am co-chair of my high school’s professional development committee, and I strongly believe in the continual building of professional knowledge (but also knowledge in general!) I will likely revisit this topic in other posts but want to stop to appreciate the iterations that professional development has and those that can take hold as true professional development when others would like to frown upon it.
The most memorable professional development for me seems to be at a point of need. Sessions that I attend or webinars that I watch and find myself repeating to others or integrating into my own practice years later are the ones that I needed at that moment and changed something in the way I did or thought about things. So, professional development should be needs-based.
Who wants to always have to look presentable all the time? Recently, a colleague, my guest post wrote a follow up post on her blog Librarian Leaps in which she said that I “love cute dresses and always looks adorably professional in them”. That is the case- my wardrobe usually consists of a dress and heels- it’s totally my uniform, but I also usually change the minute I get home. And professional development is delivered conveniently via technology through webinars and Twitter where we are not physically present but engaged (sometimes more so!). So, professional development should be flexible with the ability to do it from home, from work, or anywhere for that matter and in your pajamas!
Last year I attended a group think session for our larger district that consisted of underrepresented professionals or simply small categories of professionals whose professional development needs might not always be met with the larger-scale sessions that are designed. One comment I made is that professional development days don’t always fit neatly into the assigned three or five days set aside per year for them. My recent attendance at the American Library Association’s annual conference in Chicago is my professional development, but it was not on X day on our school’s calendar. Then on X day I can do something else. So, professional development should not always have to fit in one box or on one day. Don’t try to make it fit like a square peg in a round hole.
As I have begun running professional development, I have learned about what I like or dislike in learning I receive, likewise I value the feedback I get from participants in mine so that I can deliver what people want. I spend as much time on my presentations (discussed here) as I do learning about delivering it. And if you want tips about the secret of a great talk, I suggest this TED talk by Nancy Duarte. So, professional development should be something you give as much as you receive.
I began by saying I could talk a lot about professional development, but in a nutshell, I’ve offered a few of my thoughts on the topic. What other suggestions or comments do you have?