Sunday, October 23, 2016

The best type of Professional Development

There are so many types of fantastic Professional Development opportunities for educators!  There are books, conferences, webinars, and EdCamps.  You can collaborate with fellow teachers and/or observe them.  You can take college classes, and create social networks with Twitter and Facebook, and so many other sites that I would know if I had done more PD on technology.   There are many more PD activities, I know, I just don't want to make this post go on forever as I try to name them all because this post is not about all of the PD available to teachers.  It is about the best one, presenting what you know and are passionate about in front of your peers.

Presenting at a conference, at your school, in front of a few peers in your classroom,  is in my opinion the best Professional Development you can give yourself if you are really serious about learning and growing in your craft.  First, you REALLY need to know what you're talking about.  You need to do more than just go to a conference, read a book, observe another teacher teach, or any of the other PD ideas I mentioned previously.  You not only have to know what you are talking about, you have to believe it.  You have to practice it in your class multiple times.  You have to have success as well as failure in it.  You have to internalize it and be on the path to becoming an expert in it.

After you research your PD topic, you have to then organize it for your presentation.  This takes a lot of analysis and reflection.  You have to address the topics of what is the best way to organize this information so that everyone can understand and access it easily.  Should you make a Powerpoint?  Should you have pictures, diagrams, charts, or something else?  Should you include a video?  Should you plan for conversation to allow your PD participants to digest the information or would that ruin the flow of your presentation?  All of this takes thought and planning, lots of thought and planning.

I equate giving Professional Development to what we put in our lesson plans regarding differentiation for the GATE students or enrichment for the high students.  We partner up our highs and lows so that the lows get tutored and the highs get practice organizing the information in a meaningful way.  We say that if you explain a concept it gets cemented into the long term memory and becomes a part of us.  That is the same reason teachers should give Professional Development to others.  It makes them much better teachers.  These new Common Core strategies that we all struggle with becomes our own when we internalize them in our own presentation.  

One last comment about becoming better teachers - I have not heard one teacher say they don't prescribe to the Growth Mindset.  Everyone I've heard talk about this has said that it is exactly what our students need.   They say that students caught up in the Fixed Mindset don't grow and become stale, especially the ones who have had great success in the past.  Those who believe that their success comes naturally is in for a big surprise when their future arrives and that "success" hasn't grown along with them throughout the years.  Well, teachers are the same.  There definitely are successful teachers but it is highly doubtful that they will remain successful throughout their teaching career if they don't continue learning and growing.   Teachers must model the growth mindset for their students.  The students must see them struggling and failing in order to have success and become experts.

So teachers, if you want to grow to your fullest potential,  if you are willing to fail in order to succeed, because trust me, giving PD is really challenging,   if you are willing to not only attend a conference, but read the book the presenter wrote, follow her on Twitter, and even read some of her blogs, then you are ready to embark on the greatest challenge of your teaching career... Tell your principal, tell a group of teacher peers, tell someone that you want to give the next Professional Development.  Pick something you are passionate about.  Pick something that works in your classroom and altruistically you want others to have the same success.  Do it for the right reasons and you will have success.  Well, maybe not the first time... I told you it is hard, but success will come with time.  Giving Professional Development is the ultimate professional development, and so very worth it!

Try it and let me know how it goes!

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