When it comes to professional development, the choices are amazing.
The challenge as I repeat again and again is finding your path, and understanding your destination.
Of course, both path and destination will continually change, but it's important to understand the light that leads you forward, a light that will change as your life and the people/places in it change.
Since I like to learn, I'm apt to overcommit which can be problematic, hence I share and reshape the path continuously.
What remains a constant is the fact that I truly am committed to creating learning opportunities that respond to individual student's needs, interests, and passions. My overall emphasis lies in the area of direct service, and my role in the professional sphere is to share my journey as a direct service educator to those who are interested.
What does this mean for professional development?
First, it means that I have to continually immerse myself in communities with other like-minded educators. Educators who are willing to honestly push me forward with promising practice, knowledge, and challenge. I find those educators in multiple places including my workplace, edcamps, PLN, worthy conferences, and potentially the upcoming Deeper Learning MOOC.
Next, it means keeping the time that I need to prepare for and teach children well sacred. That includes planning time and teaching time. Teaching well takes time.
After that, it means that I have to have the courage to advocate for children's needs including speaking up when services are not met, asking questions when information is not clear, and reaching out when I don't have the answers related to what a child needs.
Finally, it takes lead time and organization, planning ahead, scheduling the best learning events, and keeping abreast of current trends, research, tools, and strategies.
As I look around me, the professionals I work with are all committed to direct service to children, and they all demonstrate varying gifts and contributions. Some will become educational leaders, others will hone their skills at community building and advocacy, and still more will advance to curriculum experts, coaches, and designers. Where does your commitment to education lie? How does your PD path feed that commitment? Who and what do you reach out to in order to grow your craft, direction, and value? These are all important questions as we move into a new of teaching and learning.