Choosing your summer PD is essential as we look forward to the fall. Just as we discuss personalizing learning for students, we as teachers have a responsibility to personalize learning for ourselves. In this post, I’m going to take you through the five steps I use to determine my own summer professional development.
1 – Determine Your PD Objectives
First, I look at the areas of concern and special interest for me. Sometimes an area of concern occurs because teaching requires new capabilities that have not been needed before. There are three main focuses I take when choosing the right course: areas of concern, areas to strengthen and keep up to date, and timeless areas of interest.
Areas of Concern
As I work to help students in these times, I know that understanding their trauma and social-emotional needs is important for me to be a better teacher. Additionally, I need to understand the research behind that topic. So, social-emotional learning is definitely on the list.
Additionally, just like with students, we tend to struggle to get motivated to work on our areas to improve. As for me, I like to improve through a strength or two, which comes next.
Another area of concern is my own wellness and good health as it has been hard to force myself to rest sometimes (just using those words together sounds odd). So self-care or “Educator Wellness” is definitely an area for me.
Areas to Strengthen and Keep Up to Date
Technology is a strength for me. But I always want to learn new things, understand current research, and analyze what I’m doing versus current best practices. This category is a subject area I’d like to keep up to date.
Timeless Areas of Interest
For me, leadership is always of interest because it is a stated goal of my class to be committed to world-class excellence.
Additionally, I always look at gifted and talented instructional practices because I believe that every child is gifted and talented. Some of the most engaging teaching practices for any student can be found in this area.
2 – Find Courses to Meet Your Needs
Advancement Courses is my go-to platform for professional development. On their website, I can easily click on the areas of interest for me and apply certain filters to meet my needs. You can also filter their course selection by grade level, credit options (either for graduate credit or continuing education), and more.
3. Review the Objectives and Products of the Course
Now, I have identified some courses that interest me. Right now, when I look at the filtered list, I see several including:
- The Seven Domains of Teacher Leadership
- Teaching Computer Science in 6-12
- Tech Tools for Teaching and Learning
- Creating Work-Life Harmony in Teaching
- Communication Essentials for School Leaders
- Recruiting, Retaining, and Reengaging Excellent Teachers
- Creating an Effective Instructional Coaching Program for Your School
- Assessment Strategies for SEL
- Computerless Coding: Play-Based Strategies and Tools
- Helping Students Overcome Trauma
- Fostering Computer Literacy
Then, I look at each individual course to see several things. What will I learn? What will I do? Is this something that will take me to a new level that will help improve my classroom? Each course on the Advancement Courses’ site includes a syllabus, course objectives, and approval information.
I teach in Georgia and also have to make sure our schools’ accrediting organization will approve, so I can choose any of their CAEP and/or regionally accredited graduate credit partners when selecting a course and gain the semester hours of credit. You can see the Where We Count page to better understand the requirements in your area.
4. Create a List of Finalists
As I look at the courses, I have a Google Doc I use to take notes on the courses as I review the syllabus and learning objectives. I also write my concerns and notes for sharing with my administrators to get their feedback for selection.
NOTE: Advancement Courses always recommends seeking approval from your district or state governing body prior to registering for a course to verify acceptance.
So, I emailed the finalists to my administrator responsible for accreditation and she sent it to our accrediting organization for preapproval. It is better to check ahead of time to make sure that everything is perfect and I suggest getting in writing that it will be approved by your school and accrediting organization. This just saves times and prevents problems. For me, this narrowed down my choices because I have to have another subject-area course relating to my subject area.
5. Pick the course
After getting feedback and approval from administrators, I pick the course and set out for an adventure.
This year, I'm taking Teaching Computer Science in 6-12 for Graduate Credit hours. I have six months to complete it so I'll register and start the first week of June. Personally, I like to complete work early in the summer so I can get through the work.
Tips for minimizing teacher stress
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- Learn tips to help you deal with difficult colleagues and students (even those who "hate" you -- yes it is possible!)