As a teacher, I’m never going to be at the top of my game. I’m never going to become a teacher who knows it all and can teach a class in her sleep. I’m never going be the one with all the answers. But to me, that’s okay, because I’m striving to be better. Education is constantly developing with new technologies, research and practice. One of the many ways I develop my abilities as an educator is through my ongoing professional development.
For me, professional development has always been a must in my mind. It does help that I love being the student just as much as I love my job as a teacher. The thrill of learning something new and trying it out in the classroom pushes me forward in my journey. Student learning, engagement and exploration are further enhanced by a teacher who is able to guide and facilitate the learning within the classroom. Sometimes I feel like I finally have one small aspect of my teaching really starting to flourish but there are hundreds of other things I could still develop more.
I’ve always taken extra qualifications and courses and attended conferences. I am completely content spending the day searching the web for new ideas and reading research. Most of my PD is independently driven though I am thankful to have a school that also offers me a variety of learning opportunities. Being the learner instead of the teacher helps me to look at teaching from my students’ perspectives too. If I’m tuning out, why is that? If I don’t want the workshop to end, what makes me so engaged? Asking these types of questions can allow me to become a more effective teacher in my own classroom.
A recent addition to my professional development repertoire is becoming an active member of Twitter. I have found this to be a place where many positive and like-minded educators come together to share resources , ask questions, contribute ideas and participate in chats. Understanding how Twitter operates alone took some learning but now it is a pool full of learning potential and I have created a Professional Learning Network (PLN) that spans the globe. I find it valuable to connect with other educators as I know it is opening the doors of opportunity for my future students as well.
I learn so much from those around me. Being able to watch educators teach and work with students allows me to see how others do the same job as me but in different ways. It is then my responsibility to decide if those methods would work for my own teaching style and students. No matter how long someone has been in the teaching profession, they will always have something to teach you if you are open to learning.
I also learn a lot from my students. So often I ask them how to do something and they are able to show me in a second what it would have taken me an hour to figure out on my own. It's important that my students realise I am not the only 'teacher' in the classroom and that they have a lot of knowledge to share as well. We are all experts in different areas depending on our passions and interests.
I’ve never worked at a place that mandated a certain number of professional development hours though my school does have professional development days and PD funding available to teachers. So many teachers groan and complain about professional development days offered by schools. To think educators would not want free opportunities to learn is mind boggling. Some workshops are more interesting than others but you can always take something away from each session that can be applied to your current practice. I was surprised when I learned it was my professional development record was what helped me secure my current employment. Having an employer who sees value in helping their teachers stay current and grow is an important feature of a school when I look at potential job opportunities.
It’s disheartening when others in the profession don’t feel the same sense of desire to improve themselves inside the classroom. What if that’s all we saw in our students - students who were satisfied with just being the same each day and never wanting more? If our students stopped asking questions, wouldn’t that concern us? It is the same with educators. We should always be questioning ourselves and others to help us develop best practices and new strategies and tools to as an educator.
The moment I stop wanting to learn more is the day I know I need to change professions. It truly is an ongoing process of developing my skills in all facets of my job. No, I’m never going to be the best teacher out there. But I will be striving each and every day to be better than I was the day before.