Too often we only get professional learning or recertification credit for sitting at a workshop (seat hours)—even if we have accomplished nothing. After 6 hours of doing nothing but listening, professional development doesn't seem worth it, necessary, or even beneficial at all.
If professional development was modified to teach specific skills that you needed, it would not be seen as an obligation, but something that educators look forward to.
Traditional professional development often followed a generic model, offering standardized training programs and workshops that aimed to equip a broad audience with a set of skills deemed essential. Why are 12th grade English teachers and 5th grade science teachers participating in the same professional development?
While these programs provide a foundation of knowledge, they often fell short in addressing the specific requirements and ambitions of educators who want to advance their career and really improve their practice. This mismatch between the training and the individual teacher's needs led to a growing demand for more personalized approaches.
Personalized professional development recognizes that each educator brings a distinct set of skills, experiences, and goals to the table. It tailors learning experiences to align with these unique attributes, enabling teachers to progress at their own pace and focus on areas that matter most to them.
Relevance and Engagement: Personalized professional development ensures that learning content is relevant to the individual's current role and future aspirations. When teachers can see a direct connection between what they're learning and how it will directly impact their students, they become more engaged and motivated to learn.
Targeted Skill Development: Rather than spending time on topics already mastered, personalized development hones in on specific skill gaps. This targeted approach allows educators to make meaningful progress in areas that truly matter to them, and acquire skills that are useful for their specific area of expertise.
Improved Performance: When educators are empowered to enhance the skills directly relevant to their roles, their overall performance improves. This not only benefits the individual but also contributes to the future success of students.
Boosted Confidence: As teachers achieve milestones and witness their own growth, their confidence receives a significant boost. Personalized development provides a sense of accomplishment, reinforcing the belief that one's efforts are leading to tangible results.
Personalizing professional development is something that you, your team of educators, and your school are going to have to work on together. You become the master when designing professional learning that works specifically for your team. When facilitating your own professional development think about these steps:
Step 1: Establish Your Goals
Step 2: Decide on The Format
Step 3: Provide Support
Step 4: Determine Follow Through
Professional learning should enable educators to play with, tinker, and explore new ideas. Personalizing professional development allows educators to be engaged in learning new skills that are applicable in their classroom. Utilize tools such as the Educator Canvas and others from the The Startup Teacher Playbook to lead others through the process.
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