At the end of the school year last year a 6th grade student proudly walked in with a beautiful potted peace lily for me. I brought it home and watered it all summer and watched it grow and grow. I knew I needed to replant it in another pot for it to thrive. I did, and have continued to water it and watch it grow throughout the winter. As I was watering it last weekend I realized that it once again needs a bigger pot in order for it to continue to flourish, bloom and grow.
Much like my special peace lily, in order to grow and thrive, educators have to be actively participating and seeking out ways to learn and better themselves and their schools. There are multiple opportunities for growth available if we seek them out. Although beneficial, and important, professional learning doesn’t mean you have to seek out a conference or a workshop. You can find the opportunity to learn from someone every day of the week.
Teacher Based Teams / Personal Learning Communities
Most of us are part of a Teacher Based Team (TBT) or a Personalized Learning Community (PLC) within our district. We need to utilize this time we are given as true professional growth time for ourselves and our students. We need to look at data, share ideas with one another and give feedback for improvement. I value time spent learning from my colleagues; encourage your building to have collaborative TBT/PLC share time where the entire staff can hear what each group is doing.
I utilize social media daily. Twitter has been instrumental in my professional growth this year. Reading articles from Ed Weekly or Edutopia keeps me on the front line of what is happening in education. Additionally, following some of the most influential educators and leaders across the U.S. allows me to see what they are doing in their schools and gives me the opportunity to reflect on how I can do the same in my school. Reading blogs of these same educators and leaders are the key to being successful. I have mentioned many on my blog before, but you can find a large list of great leaders and educators with outstanding blogs from my homepage under the Compelled Tribe link.
Participating in chat groups are crucial if you want to connect and learn with others. You find these groups on Twitter about every day and for every area you can think of. Teach science - there’s a science chat. Teach special education, there’s SpEd chat. Most states have their own weekly chats as well. Topics vary each week, but the connections and ideas that are shared in these groups are some of the best.
Ohio has Educational Service Centers (ESC) across the state that services school districts by offering professional development and resources. Most of these offerings are free of charge to their participating school districts. Consultants within the ESCs will also visit schools and offer resources and support to teachers and staff. Their goal is to help support the students and teachers within the locality. I have utilized my local ESC multiple times and the information I have received has been top notch.
I would love to hear from others what resources you use to grow professionally. Growth happens when we learn together!