Educators need their own books of important stuff. We can’t learn everything. We can’t take every course, read every book, attend every conference. We must have priorities. We must be able to say, this is my year to learn _____, and we fill in that blank with one topic, one issue, one area of inquiry. . . Just as the New York Times places the most significant news stories above the fold, educators need to ask, “What’s above the fold?” “What’s most significant?” What really matters for me at this point in time?” Setting limits and devoting big blocks of time to one area of study is the only way we can study issues deeply and lead scholarly lives.
At the start of the year we get swept up in so many details, everything from organizing classrooms to scheduling parent events and fire drills. One of the best uses of all that summer energy and enthusiasm is developing individual learning plans among teachers that can be sustained all year long.
Many school administrators require teachers to fill out professional development plans for the year in early fall, setting goals and charting how to move that development forward. Being part of a strong learning community can spark professional development that endures. As Shelley Harwayne notes in the above quote, nothing is more energizing than realizing your colleagues around you are also “swept up” in learning new things about literacy and students.
This eGuide includes a six-step process for creating individual professional development plans. The process can be completed by teachers or administrators working alone to devise these plans. But ideally, the steps should be completed with a partner or group of colleagues. The more everyone in the school community knows about the learning agenda of their peers, the better. This will help foster more collaboration around emerging interests, needs, and strengths.
Ideally, the meetings to devise plans together should include not just classroom teachers, but administrators, support personnel–anyone in the school who has some responsibility for helping students learn. The workshops can be completed in one long day of collaborating with others, or you might choose to complete them over a few days or a week. You might even try one step a week through the first few weeks of school, to allow the ideas to percolate longer.
To download this 9-page guide (pdf format), click here.
The plans are also suitable for one-on-one sessions with teachers if you are a mentor or coach assigned to assist colleagues with individual plans. These activities are appropriate for any grade level or setting.