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Finding Energy in Professional Development as an Educator in 2024
May 2, 2024

Finding Energy in Professional Development as an Educator in 2024

Amy Westby

It’s ok to admit that the thought of professional development can sometimes feel daunting after a long year of teaching.  As the school year winds down and the last bell rings, it’s tempting to collapse into a well-deserved break. The exhaustion from juggling lesson plans, grading, and classroom management can feel overwhelming.  So why is the thought of professional development so daunting? 

  1.  It is not personalized.  Too often, PD is considered mandatory but also very impersonal and doesn’t take into account each person’s unique learning needs or styles.  
  2. It’s boring.  Watching videos or listening to day-long lectures is a past strategy that doesn’t work for many learners today.  
  3. It is a checklist item that doesn’t inspire passion.  

The good news?  Professional development doesn’t have to continue in this narrative.  It doesn’t have to induce groans or eye-rolling.  Instead, following these steps can make professional development fun, enjoyable, and effective.  Here’s how:  

Embrace New Digital Technologies for Learning 

Gone are the days of simple content delivered in video format to watch on a loop before taking a simple quiz.  Digital learning in 2024, thankfully, has gotten over the on-demand, individual, asynchronous, peer-less, or instructor-less learning modules.  Instead, you can now find many new programs, peer-learning, collaborative networking, and impactful storytelling in a variety of personalize formats, such as social learning LMS platforms, podcasts, or hybrid options.  In short, there is more direction now for you to direct your own professional development with increased flexibility and customization.  And, the best news, is that many are now low-cost or even free.  

The key to this new learning modality is making sure to set the right goals for yourself first.  By taking the extra hour up front, you will then seek the right platforms and programs to enroll in that match your own development.  

Embrace Social Learning 

As a teacher, you know the value of learning from others.  It’s funny why we sometimes don’t apply that same thinking to our own professional development.  People really like learning from others, but even personally, it takes a little effort.  Take the time these next months to embrace social learning for yourself and find a mentor, be candid about your growth expectations, and make weekly time to focus on connecting with others.  This is how your students learn best; so can you.  In this process, you will see firsthand that it’s ok to be vulnerable with others, learn new tricks and tips, and learn how to take opportunities to improve.  You will gain confidence, too, along the way that will help you work with your peers more effectively and with your administration team.  

Hone in Your Learning to Specific Skill Development 

The most common reason people fail to keep their learning alive or build new habits is that they haven’t specifically narrowed the “what” they want to learn enough.  Decades of research show that simply saying, “I want to be a better teacher,” isn’t the right recipe that will lead to success.  Instead, clearly defining a goal, setting markers for measurement and time, and setting the outcomes clearly will crystallize the end result and make it easier to work toward.  

Identify a skill that is valued in your teaching community.  Look at competency models or ladders to outline the specific skills and attributes that are necessary for growth.  Talk to others in your community if you are a little stuck.  Then, write it down and make it your annual theme to carry you through the year.  

Next, do some homework to find courses, podcasts, books, and communities to join that allow you learn that specific skill.  Most everything can be found for free if you search a little.  Sort your learning into little bite-sized, bullet points.  Use a simple document or spreadsheet to track or invest $0-5 in an app that tracks your learning and habits.  It doesn’t really matter what method you use to keep tabs, but zeroing in on your learning will make it more relevant and make it stick longer.  As you set your milestones and little nuggets of learning, think about how you will practically apply this to your classroom in the fall.  Track this in another column or bullet point on your list.  

Finally, ask for feedback.  After you have absorbed new learnings and written down your milestones and practical applications, make them a little more public by sharing and asking for commentary.  It’s true that we hold ourselves to achievements better once we’ve make them known to others.  It’s not a time to be formal or make it a bigger deal than it is – it’s quite informal – and relaxed.  It’s a quick check-in and helps you to practice for when you do need to meet with your administrator for an annual or formal review.  

In Conclusion

Summer is not a vacation from growth; it’s an opportunity to invest in yourself. So, grab your planner, sip that iced coffee, and start planning your summer PD journey. Your future self—and your students—will thank you! Remember, self-care isn’t selfish; it’s an investment in your well-being and, by extension, your student’s well-being. As you sip that iced tea and soak up the sun, know that you’re not just recharging—you’re also setting a powerful example for your students. Happy summer, teacher! 🌞📚

 

References:

  • Harvard Business Review:  You Can Learn and Get Work Done at the Same Time by Liane Davey January 11, 2016
  • EDX free learning courses 
  • Coursera free learning courses 
  • Codeacademy 
  • Google for Work 
  • Udemy

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Finding Energy in Professional Development as an Educator in 2024

Finding Energy in Professional Development as an Educator in 2024

May 2, 2024

It’s ok to admit that the thought of professional development can sometimes feel daunting after a long year of teaching.  As the school year winds down and the last bell rings, it’s tempting to collapse into a well-deserved break. The exhaustion from juggling lesson plans, grading, and classroom management can feel overwhelming.  So why is the thought of professional development so daunting? 

  1.  It is not personalized.  Too often, PD is considered mandatory but also very impersonal and doesn’t take into account each person’s unique learning needs or styles.  
  2. It’s boring.  Watching videos or listening to day-long lectures is a past strategy that doesn’t work for many learners today.  
  3. It is a checklist item that doesn’t inspire passion.  

The good news?  Professional development doesn’t have to continue in this narrative.  It doesn’t have to induce groans or eye-rolling.  Instead, following these steps can make professional development fun, enjoyable, and effective.  Here’s how:  

Embrace New Digital Technologies for Learning 

Gone are the days of simple content delivered in video format to watch on a loop before taking a simple quiz.  Digital learning in 2024, thankfully, has gotten over the on-demand, individual, asynchronous, peer-less, or instructor-less learning modules.  Instead, you can now find many new programs, peer-learning, collaborative networking, and impactful storytelling in a variety of personalize formats, such as social learning LMS platforms, podcasts, or hybrid options.  In short, there is more direction now for you to direct your own professional development with increased flexibility and customization.  And, the best news, is that many are now low-cost or even free.  

The key to this new learning modality is making sure to set the right goals for yourself first.  By taking the extra hour up front, you will then seek the right platforms and programs to enroll in that match your own development.  

Embrace Social Learning 

As a teacher, you know the value of learning from others.  It’s funny why we sometimes don’t apply that same thinking to our own professional development.  People really like learning from others, but even personally, it takes a little effort.  Take the time these next months to embrace social learning for yourself and find a mentor, be candid about your growth expectations, and make weekly time to focus on connecting with others.  This is how your students learn best; so can you.  In this process, you will see firsthand that it’s ok to be vulnerable with others, learn new tricks and tips, and learn how to take opportunities to improve.  You will gain confidence, too, along the way that will help you work with your peers more effectively and with your administration team.  

Hone in Your Learning to Specific Skill Development 

The most common reason people fail to keep their learning alive or build new habits is that they haven’t specifically narrowed the “what” they want to learn enough.  Decades of research show that simply saying, “I want to be a better teacher,” isn’t the right recipe that will lead to success.  Instead, clearly defining a goal, setting markers for measurement and time, and setting the outcomes clearly will crystallize the end result and make it easier to work toward.  

Identify a skill that is valued in your teaching community.  Look at competency models or ladders to outline the specific skills and attributes that are necessary for growth.  Talk to others in your community if you are a little stuck.  Then, write it down and make it your annual theme to carry you through the year.  

Next, do some homework to find courses, podcasts, books, and communities to join that allow you learn that specific skill.  Most everything can be found for free if you search a little.  Sort your learning into little bite-sized, bullet points.  Use a simple document or spreadsheet to track or invest $0-5 in an app that tracks your learning and habits.  It doesn’t really matter what method you use to keep tabs, but zeroing in on your learning will make it more relevant and make it stick longer.  As you set your milestones and little nuggets of learning, think about how you will practically apply this to your classroom in the fall.  Track this in another column or bullet point on your list.  

Finally, ask for feedback.  After you have absorbed new learnings and written down your milestones and practical applications, make them a little more public by sharing and asking for commentary.  It’s true that we hold ourselves to achievements better once we’ve make them known to others.  It’s not a time to be formal or make it a bigger deal than it is – it’s quite informal – and relaxed.  It’s a quick check-in and helps you to practice for when you do need to meet with your administrator for an annual or formal review.  

In Conclusion

Summer is not a vacation from growth; it’s an opportunity to invest in yourself. So, grab your planner, sip that iced coffee, and start planning your summer PD journey. Your future self—and your students—will thank you! Remember, self-care isn’t selfish; it’s an investment in your well-being and, by extension, your student’s well-being. As you sip that iced tea and soak up the sun, know that you’re not just recharging—you’re also setting a powerful example for your students. Happy summer, teacher! 🌞📚

 

References:

  • Harvard Business Review:  You Can Learn and Get Work Done at the Same Time by Liane Davey January 11, 2016
  • EDX free learning courses 
  • Coursera free learning courses 
  • Codeacademy 
  • Google for Work 
  • Udemy