Professional Development Needs to Be Part of Life

One of the most frustrating things about Professional Development (for both teachers and trainers) is that it’s difficult to get teachers together, and then the training happens, ends, and there is often too little follow up (on both sides).

I think part of the problem with this approach is the way we look at PD as “an event” instead of looking at it as a process. Below, you will see three images I created that show the problem visually.

Real Life

Here is your life. However you fill your days, this is the way you normally work. Often, people don’t make room in their lives for ongoing learning because they’re too busy “getting things done” — not to mention ekeing out some time to feel like a human being.

Life outside of PD

Nobody can blame you for trying to enjoy as much of your time as possible while staying on top of your responsibilities, but if you feel yourself falling behind in your professional development, you may need to work in some time for training.

PD: Life Interrupted

It’s common in education for teachers to fall behind new developments in technology and pedagogy– understandable as they meet the myriad challenges and expectations placed on them.

The solution is usually to carve out a day or two out of the school schedule so they can sit in a room with a trainer and hopefully learn some new skills.

Life Interrupted by Learning

We all know the quality of this training varies wildly, and sometimes it can be very effective. However some skills (specifically technology skills) really must become part of an ongoing practice– they don’t lend themselves to a “one and done” PD strategy.

I noticed later that, in this slide, “LIFE” interrupted by “Learning” is just a “LIE”.

PD: Life + Learning

In my experience, the best way to continue my professional development is to find creative ways to work learning into the fabric of my life. I listen to education and technology podcasts while I’m walking the dog, I read my Feedly feeds while I’m having my morning coffee, and I stick my head in on interesting-sounding meetups happening in my area. Hanging out at my local hackerspace gives me opportunities to meet people with deep skills in things I know nothing about.

Life in Harmony with Learning

In planning the PD for our faculty, we would try to get them to commit to an ongoing online “course” that would be periodically updated with new learning materials that they could consume on their own time. We would also publish a blog that they could read or search on their own schedule.

Whether you are the learner or the trainer, shoot for creating an ongoing relationship with learning instead of looking at it as a “one and done” event.

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