For many educators, summer break isn't just about vacations in the sun or sleeping in – it's also time to be a student.
Being away from the classroom means there's time and energy for professional development to learn new strategies and resources. Of course some PD sessions are mandatory, but there are plenty teachers can do on their own. In fact, there are so many choices it can be overwhelming.
Before you make your PD choices for this summer, here are five simple steps to consider so you don’t feel guilty about the ones you leave behind:
- Pick a PD that aligns with your goals. Before you make a decision, set a goal. For example, if your goal is increase student ownership, then only frequent PDs with that focus. Read the summaries of each session to make sure there is alignment.
- Pick credible professional development. Almost anyone can rent a venue, have a podium and whiteboard, and call it professional development. Just like you would for anything else, check the reviews. Do facilitators know their content? Do attendees find themselves meaningfully engaged? What is the background of the organization? Do the presenters have relevant background experience? It’s imperative to do your research so you don’t waste money or time.
- Look at your schedule. Some PD courses are a few hours while others can extend over a few days. Attend only what you can commit to. If a seminar is slated to be a three-day experience, it’s that way for a reason and you won’t get the full benefit if you only attend one of the three days. Do not bite off more than you can chew.
- Stay within your budget. Many PDs are free, but some are not. Some are also out of state and may require travel. In those instances, you’ll have to pay for travel and hotel in addition to any registration fees. So invest in your development, but make sure it’s within your budget. There may be PD in your area that has exactly what you need. And even if you are traveling, see if any grants or scholarships are available to you or ask your administration for assistance. Going with a group of fellow educators can also cut down on costs, not to mention increase collaboration.
Follow up on your PD. PD is a good start, but usually a one-and-done workshop is not enough to implement a new idea or strategy. Check to see if the PD presenters can do a follow up, answer any questions, or do a school visit.
May your future PDs be transformational, and your teaching grow because of it!