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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Your Professional Development Path: Resources

Today there are countless resources available related to professional development.

Yet, time and money are at a premium for most educators.

How do you learn about, choose, and access the best professional development to lead your practice forward?

I started thinking about this because a periodical I typically read for free is now requiring a hefty payment. Do I want to pay for that?  I'm not sure as I've spent a lot of my own money this year for school supplies and professional development events.

So as I begin to think about this topic to lead my research, I've identified the following areas of professional study:

Online Chats and Share
There's still good information shared openly through online chats via social media. I learn a lot from weekly Twitter chats including #satchat (Saturday mornings at 7:30am) and #edchat (Tuesdays at 12 noon and 7pm).

MOOCs and more
You can still access some free or low cost information via MOOCs, webinars, online videos, and other online courses.

If you present, you can get free entry into most conferences. Also many school systems offer some professional dollars for conference attendance. It's good to research and choose conferences ahead of time so that you can submit a proposal for presentation or ask for system-wide dollars for attendance. Some conferences invite teachers to attend for free too. I have an old list of those opportunities that I need to update soon.

Periodicals, Blogs and Websites
There are some great periodicals, blogs, and websites you can join and receive updates from for free or for a fee. It's important to check in to see which periodicals your system subscribes to so that you can access those for free. You may choose to join some associations and also sign up for those that are free and meet your needs as well.

Book Studies and Collegial Share
There's opportunity in-house and nearby to build your professional work too. This starts with the creativity and collaboration of you and your colleagues.

Courses, Degree Programs, and Institutes
Outstanding courses with talented, skilled professors have offered me some of my best professional development. Massachusetts offers some of this professional development for free each summer through their content institutes. Also hosting a student teacher can result in a free course at a local university. Further, systems often offer some money for courses although you may have to pay upfront and wait until you've passed the course for reimbursement. That can be tough when you're on a tight budget.

If you are in the early stages of your career, I suggest that you enroll in degree programs rather than taking a lot of disparate courses since additional degrees will give you greater professional flexibility and choice as you become more seasoned and your life takes on new chapters.

I want to think more about professional development as I renew my teaching/learning path for the next leg.  What would you add to this list?  How do you navigate the professional development path?What learning venues serve you and your practice best? Thanks for the share.