The Power of Self-Directed Professional Development
by Lisa Frase
A group of teachers are the captive audience of another in-service day. Professional development is on the agenda. The audience is made up of new teachers, teachers with a few years under their belts, master teachers, and teachers counting down the days until retirement.
Similar to the students our classrooms, as teachers. we have different learning styles and different academic needs. Everyone waits for that little golden nugget of inspiration. They can only hope this workshop gives them something useful to take back to their classroom.
We’ve all been there.
As adults, we are self aware of our personal and professional needs. We realize we need something fresh to spark our 21st Century student’s imagination. We are searching for the very thing that will motivate and inspire the reluctant student. We await the teachable moments with bated breath. We capture “a-ha” moments in order to push ourselves to the next level in our teaching.
Mandated professional development is what it is, but it’s not everything, and we should not rely on it to grow as teachers. Self-selected professional development allows for differentiation and personal growth. When we direct our own learning, we tend to embrace our new knowledge and shout it from the rooftops.
Reading is the cornerstone of education, but in today’s high tech world, you don’t have to go at it alone.
Today you can read, reflect, and discuss in on going professional conversations with fellow educators from around the world. Teachers are communicating in forums, chat rooms, through blogs, on Twitter and Facebook, and countless other online communities.
Opportunities abound when teachers network online. Powerful communities of educators are built and new thinking is explored, discussed, analyzed, and applied in the classroom. The latest thinking is online somewhere. Teachers who are readers are sharing everything from classroom management to the best in children’s literature.
One of the greatest professional development opportunities lies within yourself. National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) provides the standards and the means to take yourself to the next level in teaching.
NBPTS forces you to take a look into your mirror of teaching. There is nothing quite like watching yourself teach and becoming your own reflective evaluator. You will walk away from the experience a changed person and teacher. This rigorous professional development opportunity is voluntary, but it is also powerful.
It’s one thing to network online, it’s quite another to network in person. Join professional organizations. Attend conferences.
Step up to the plate and become part of the behind the scenes action. This is your chance to meet the gurus in education, to hear the best of the latest research and theory -directly from the researchers mouth, to find out about the most current trends in education, to meet authors, and to network with other educators from all over the country.
Attending a conference is the best way to refresh your spirits, enhance your learning experience, and stay in the know when it comes to best practice. Don’t get left behind (no pun intended). Join local, state, and national organizations in the field you teach and see your self-selected professional development actualized into reality.
Read to learn and grow. Push yourself professionally. Attend and participate in local, state, and national professional organizations.