Sunday, October 26, 2014

Professional Learning: It's What You Make It

StartUp Liverpool
Superintendent's Conference Day
I love professional development, yup, you read it right. I said, "I love professional development." Let me explain. I love learning. I read about education, blog about education, tweet about education, vox about education, have conversations about education with educators and non-educators alike, watch videos and documentaries about education, and participate in conferences all around issues and best practices in education, so yes, I do love professional development.  My idea of professional development is not narrowly defined as the professional development that is done to me, or even for me. No, my definition of professional development is all encompassing, mostly due to the fact that I am taking responsibility for MY professional development.  So in that vein, all of the above are avenues or ways for me to improve or develop as a professional.

So often as educators we complain about the lack of training, or the lack of professional development if you will. Of course, if I am expected to instruct using particular programs, or utilize specific tools, I would like to have some specific training on those items. But, the reality is that despite the best intentions of our administrators, trainers and instructional coaches, there is rarely enough time allotted or sufficient training given, during formal PD sessions for educators to walk away able to successfully implement a given tool or program. I think there are a few things that need to happen. First, we need to take some responsibility for our own learning. We need to be active participants that are willing to engage, to try something new, to take some risks. Second, we need to take advantage of the expertise of our colleagues.  There are many experts within our buildings, within our districts, and certainly within a larger Professional Learning Network. Third, we need to look at the delivery of PD in new ways, and be open to learning and engaging in new ways.

Our job is difficult, the demands are many, and time seems fleeting, but quality professional development can inspire, empower and challenge us in ways we could have never imagined. Thus, making our jobs a little easier, the demands seem a little less demanding, and our classrooms more engaging.

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