When I first entered the teaching, I was awash in professional development. It seemed like there was no shortage of money to request training either. Then the housing market crashed, the cash flow slowed to a trickle, and professional development was scaled far, far back. My state’s governor at the time lifted the professional development hours requirement in order to maintain keep one’s credential cleared. And poof, it was pretty much gone.
If I was going to sit and wait for my district to bring the learning to me, then I was going to do quite a bit of waiting. That wasn’t going to be good for me. It definitely wouldn’t be good for my students. What’s a teacher to do?
You have to take control of your own development. Do it yourself! Hey, that’s the point we want our students to get to, right? Each of us should develop a professional development DIY toolbox. I have found that there are three simple things you can do today to start filling that DIY toolbox:
1. Read Books. I have a steadily growing stack of books in my collection. These are resources I come back to year after year, offering just-in-time insight and reliable strategies. Considering what I have learned from the books I have purchased, they have been a relatively inexpensive investment in my development as a teacher. Also, I have noticed that when I put a little bit of money towards something, I tend to lean into it a little more.
2. Search the Internet. This may seem like a no-brainer by but there are some really great, free resources out there. When searching the internet, here’s a teacher pro tip: when searching for classroom lessons, materials, or strategies, start with an image search. I like to know what it might look like in my classroom, and those great teachers that are providing quality content will use pictures to demonstrate their priceless advice.
3. Partner with Another Teacher. This is the most valuable asset in your professional development DIY Toolbox. If you already have someone you work with, great. If you don’t, then get a partner, someone who can be there to bandy ideas back and forth with you. For best results, build your relationship with this person with professional development at the center. If this is the foundation, then that’s where conversation and energy will go when you both have run out of things to say.
One of the most important things we can do as teachers is never stop the pursuit of getting better. It’s up to you. Even if your district is investing in your development, it’s still up you. Don’t delay. Build up your toolbox.
What about you? What professional development DIY tools work best for you? Is it reading, internet searches, or working with a partner? Leave a comment below.
Top Photo Credit: Breather