A Year Without Professional Development

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a dry season (personal photo)

Wow! This is looking like a dry season for me in the area of professional development this year. For me, this creates a feeling of sadness deep within my soul. Why? Because I LOVE TO LEARN!!!

I suppose I should define the “dry season” that lies ahead.

  • I finished COETAIL courses in May. This means no regular assigned readings, no required blog posts, and no tuition bills to pay.
  • I already have a Master’s degree. A PhD is a next logical step…or is it?
  • I finished my two-year stint as my school’s NESA representative, which included attendance at the NESA Spring Educator’s Conference.
  • I’m not up for school-sponsored PD this year. Our PD budget is essentially for the constant training, maintenance, and upkeep of our IB programmes (PYP, MYP, and DP). I am not a classroom teacher, so I totally accept that training classroom teachers is priority. (But, darnit!, there’s a great opportunity in February focused on aligning the Common Core with IB programmes.)
  • I have no problem financing my own PD. In fact, I often do. However, I have nothing currently in the works.

So, where does this leave me? I think it leaves me in charge of an opportunity to redefine what professional development means for me. If I’m honest, this year without professional development has, thus far, been full of professional development. I’m just finding myself on the other side, doing far more giving of PD rather than receiving.

  • Coaching. After attending a phenomenal 5-day Critical Friends Group coaching workshop at the NESA SEC, I am motivated to become a facilitator. The first step includes establishing a CFG of teachers in my school and working with them over the course of the school year (and beyond, I presume). This is currently underway.
  • Leading and Seeking. This year in particular, I am frequently at the forefront of divisional meetings and professional development initiatives at my school. In this capacity, I use CFG protocols in order to promote collaborative conversations around practices that directly impact student achievement. Being in front can be an enormous learning experience! To ensure growth, I do ask for feedback. Below is the basic survey form that I have used a few times. I’ve fallen behind on asking for feedback, so this is a good reminder to get back on track.
  • Collaborating. The majority of this professional development leading involves a lot of collaborative planning with administrators and other teacher leaders.
  • Presenting. I create a fair amount of visual presentations. In a recent in-house PD session by Jeff Layman on presentation design, I was reminded of those amazing teachings from COETAIL course 3 on visual literacy. Jeff and his reminders helped me to move outside of my thinking about presenting text to an audience. There is a way. So, I will be focusing on continuing to grow my visual presentation skills.
  • Researching. I am often in research mode. Due to the nature of a five-year curriculum review cycle (and just needing to know stuff about curriculum-related topics) there is always a curriculum to be reviewed. I find myself with numerous tabs open in my browser that contain information about curriculum development, curriculum implementation, trends in literacy, math instruction, best practices in [fill in the blank], etc. There are also the plethora links to recorded webinars piling up in my inbox and iTunes U to further explore. Then it’s all about making sense of the research and its implications.
  • Accepting. Perhaps this is a year when I will be less of a consumer of professional development and more a producer. <Gulp!> The good news here is that by producing I can still develop professionally. How can I not? As long as I have a clear plan, seek/receive regular feedback, and reflect, I should end up more professionally developed in June 2014 than I am today. 🙂

 For it is in giving that we receive.
― St. Francis of Assisi


lush oasis (personal photo)

So, ultimately I am activating COETAIL, Part Deux. My goals are emerging based on this blog post. I certainly have some areas that will be my focal points. My year without professional development is looking to be less like a dry desert and more like a lush, fertile oasis.




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