How to Pursue Meaningful Professional Development Opportunities
As educators, we enter our careers with up to date knowledge of best practices — and we are filled with ideas! At some point in our career, we might fall into a pattern. Patterns of the units we teach, the curriculum we use, instructional strategies, and the behavior systems. After all, we are humans, and as humans we find a lot of comfort in the known. Not to mention the high stress that comes along with our day to day work! Instead of seeking out learning on the things that drive our passion, we begin to rely on our districts to keep us up to date with whatever professional development or initiative our district is focusing on.
And if I’m going to be totally honest, I have often dreaded those professional development days. I would have rather spent the time organizing my classroom, working on my stack of paperwork, or on lesson plans. Can you tell I am speaking from experience?! I stayed in this pattern for several years untilI I finally made the choice to take back the passion in my career. Below are five things that supported my professional development and passion without adding additional time and stress to my day:
1. Follow the Right Accounts on Social Media: I am guilty of spending way too much time mindlessly scrolling social media. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes my brain needs this! But I have started following accounts related to education. Between seeing what my friends and family are up to, I am inspired by what other educators are doing! Here are some ideas of who to follow:
Facebook, follow National Association of Special Educators or Education Resource Centre. Instagram, follow Navigating Behavior Change or SocialEmotionalWorkshop. And of course, Creatively Focused on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn
2. Make Connections on LinkedIn: Consider replacing the scrolling of social media with making professional connections and doing some learning on LinkedIn. Through LinkedIn I have been able to reconnect with previous coworkers and educational professionals who I have never met, but who are doing amazing and inspirational things.
3. Join a Professional Association: District professional development often checks the boxes for what we need to renew our licensure, but joining the professional association related to your licensure and interests helps renew the passion. Here is a list of national organizations to check-out. I also recommend looking into your local and state associations. If you are able, attend an in person conference! If in-person is not an option, there are always virtual trainings and often monthly newsletters that share intentional, relevant strategies and tips.
4. Listen to Relevant Podcasts: During my commutes, I have switched from listening to my local radio station to listening to podcasts. You can literally find something for every topic of interest. Are you experiencing challenging behaviors? Check out Classroom Management. Do you need to feel understood? Check out Teachers Off Duty. Do you want to improve your literacy instruction? Listen to Science of Reading: The Podcast.
5. Join axis3: At Creatively Focused, we have been in your shoes and our goal is to make your job sustainable and keep your passion for education! We are here to give you the support you need, when you need it. axis3 has over 500 resources and 20 on-demand courses that can be accessed whenever you need them. Do you have a question that needs to be answered now so that you can get the job done and unplug? Check-out axis3 Connect. axis3 Connect provides special education teachers with answers to questions and resources when you need them, but also provides you with connection to someone with similar experiences!
Try these strategies and let us know how it goes! Don’t forget to sign up for our Newsletter to get strategies and tips delivered to your inbox each month.
Written by Alyssa Prince, Systems Analyst & Licensed School Psychologist