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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Professional Learning: Be Choosy

This morning I worked on a number of efforts related to the SEL study/writing group I belong to. The group's effort is challenging me in new and positive ways. I'm learning a lot.

I somewhat reluctantly signed on to this group because of the level of challenge and time presented. I worried about whether I'd be able to keep up, but I knew that the mentorship of the more experienced members of the group would lead to very positive learning so I said yes, a yes I don't regret as the group is proving to be a very good teacher.

On the other hand, I had to say no to another new opportunity yesterday. It was a great opportunity to boost my skill and knowledge in another area, but if I said yes, I just would not have the time to do the job justice. I wouldn't learn what I could given the time constraints.

In today's world educators have to be choosy about where they put their teaching/learning energy--we simply can't do all that's available in this regard since there are countless opportunities to learn and develop online and off, but time is limited with regard to the balance of learning/develop time, teaching time, and time for our personal lives.

In light of this, how do you make decisions about professional learning and development?

Long Term Vision
First, I think it's important to make time to think about and create a plan for the long view--who do you want to be in ten years with regard to your professional life? It's best to feed that future vision. As I think about my choice to join the SEL study/writing group, I know that decision will support my love and interest in writing as well as my desire to coach, lead, and collaborate with educators in new ways in the future. This is a positive choice.

Also, think about your learning/teaching gaps. Assess the data, consider your craft, and listen to your colleagues and leaders--where can you improve as an educator. Then seek out mentors, coaches, courses, books, conferences, and other learning events and activities that will bridge your professional gaps.

It's also important to think about your current job and pay. It's important to choose learning/development that not only supports your future vision, but also supports your current paycheck. If your work place offers pay increases related to professional learning and development, steer your learning/development path in that direction. Get to the top of your pay scale as quickly as you can. Not only will you make more money, but you'll teach better too after all that learning.

Consider learning with a theme in mind. For example a few years ago when the new common core standards were introduced, I took several courses that extended my understanding and application of those standards. That learning has served me well. If you can learn via a theme with others, this is even better. For example, say that teachers in your school want to develop a deeper approach to STEAM teaching. You could work and learn together. This would support your individual and collective learning as well as deep, impactful application of the learning in your school which will serve students well.

So when it comes to professional learning consider your long term vision, current pay, and themes that will enrich your individual and collective learning and teaching.