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Professional Development for the 21st Century Educator

This is my second post for the 9x9x25 challenge for Ontario Extend by eCampus Ontario.

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Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I love professional development — really, really, really love professional development. I love learning new things. I love meeting new colleagues. I love sharing my own challenges, failures and successes in the classroom. Professional development is meant to help you continue to step up (or Level Up!) your teaching game and continue growing as an educator.

One thing that shocked me when I entered the education field was how depressing professional development was! Lecture-style, mandatory, no choice, one size fits all. Shouldn’t teachers be engaging in professional development that mimics best practices in the classroom? Afterall, we are the students in a PD session!

Here are my suggestions for making PD for 21st Century Educators:

  1. Allow teachers how to make a professional development plan and find PD opportunities to help them meet their goals.
  2. Allow teachers to choose the PD opportunities they attend. They will attend PD opportunities that are of interest to them or help them meet their PD plan.
  3. PD sessions should be created with teachers’ input; not given to teachers just because administration sees a ‘need’ for it.
  4. PD sessions should be delivered using the best practices that teachers are expected to use in the classroom.
  5. Give teachers time to play and try the strategies, activities and technology being demonstrated.
  6. Reflective activities should be built into PD.

Teachers can participate in a number of professional development activities that contribute to their effectiveness in the classroom: webinars, online courses, seminars, workshops, conferences, book clubs, professional learning communities or communities of practice, video conferences, reading research articles, and the list could go on!

Personally, I find Twitter to be an amazing resource for connecting with colleagues across the world and learning from those colleagues. I’ve come across a number of great ideas for my classroom and given suggestions to other colleagues who were facing challenges. Could networking on Twitter and participating in scheduled Twitter chats be considered professional development? Absolutely!

Teachers do not need to undertake so much PD that they become overwhelmed. My advice is to pick one or two things that you want to do differently in the classroom or that you want to learn about. Set aside a small amount of time during the week to do PD in the method that you feel suits you best, and begin learning. Reflect on your learning and progress from time to time. Before you know it, you will start to love professional development because you are driving every aspect of it.

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