Thursday’s Tip: Find Your Own Professional Development

Audiences North East - summer professional development event, Alnwick Gardens (19) - The Poison Garden

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We’ve all been there. Your district or building sets aside days for professional development. Sometimes the topics are specific to your school’s needs, but often they are not. The sessions drag on and all you can think about is all the work you have to get done. And this is coming from someone who facilitates professional development for a living.

Sometimes, the best way to get the most out of professional development is to find your own. There are many ways in which educators can find professional development opportunities with minimal cost and without leaving their home or school.

Below are a few tips for finding your own professional development opportunities:

  • eLearning for Educators -A part of the eMINTS National Center houses eLearning for Educators, an online space for teacher professional development. Pricing is reasonable. Plus, the savings from not having to travel make it worth your time right away. Visit eLearning for Educators for more details.
  • FeedOn the Horizon: 20+ Free Professional Development Opportunities for 2012PostedTeacher Reboot Camp lists some great online PD opportunities that will only cost you to have decent internet access.
  • Read educational literature – Sometimes, the best learning we can do is accomplished by sitting down with a good book. Larry Ferlazzo polled his audience to see what they have been reading this past year and the results can be found at this post.
  • Cultivate your PLN – Personal Learning Networks (PLN) have been around for a while now, but I am still surprised at how many educators don’t utilize or even have one. Some good starting points for creating your own PLN are here and here.
  • Watch TED talks. – TED talks bring together the brightest and most successful thinkers of our time to discuss their unique projects and perspectives. These talks are then shared with the world via online videos. A theme of interest for educators might be How We Learn, but most TED talks can provide great insight and inspiration to us all.

What other ways are there to attain professional development with limited resources and budgets? How can some of these ideas be applied to the professional learning communities (PLC) currently appearing in schools everywhere? How can these practices enhance your current professional development?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist and blogger with the eMINTS National Center.

Thursday’s Tip: Supporting Self-Directedness

Self-Directed – “Directed or guided by oneself, especially as an independent agent”

When you think about it, we all want to be self-directed.  We want the ability and freedom to guide ourselves; to make choices based on a sound thought process, and the independence to tailor learning, thinking, and life to our own style and needs.   Being teachers, we also strive to achieve that same ability and desire in our students.  We want them to be self-directed with their thoughts, learning, and life.  Our biggest obstacle is: How do we achieve self-directedness in ourselves and our students?  As we first focus on ourselves for this post, there are several ways to move towards becoming self-directed.  With summer here, we can take some time and explore possible avenues to help meet that goal.


We might consider the development of our own Personal Learning Network (PLN) through blogs, wikis, Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks.  We can choose the ones that allow us to develop skills, learn about new technologies, explore teaching strategies, see a variety of perspectives, and learn about educational issues affecting not only ourselves but the world.  A variety of tools and media allows us to develop a PLN that fits our individual learning styles as well as connect to the global education community where we can gain and share new learning.

Another way to move towards becoming a self-directed individual is through the organization of our thought process.  We have discussed in previous posts ways to reflect and plan.  We can implement these skills in almost any situation and in everything we do.  We can ask ourselves questions to develop a plan, and then once the event is over, reflect on ways to continue or improve what we did. This can include the setting of goals and monitoring the follow through of those goals.   As we take these pieces of planning and reflecting and internalize the process, we move ourselves closer to becoming a more self-directed person.

So some questions that could support you in becoming more self-directed that you might want to consider are:

  • What goals might you have for yourself in becoming self-directed?
  • What might be some strategies you can use to develop your ability to be self-directed?
  • What learning styles and preferences in yourself do you need to consider in becoming self-directed?

Taking the steps in becoming more self-directed may seem small but can have a powerful impact on how we approach and handle life.  As the Australian song reminds us – “From little things, big things grow” – Paul Kelly

Carmen Marty, Terri Brines, & Brooke Higgins are eMINTS Instructional Specialists and Cognitive Coaching/eMINTS Agency Trainers. For more information about Cognitive Coaching and related seminars visit the eMINTS National Center events page.

mathplourde (Photographer). (2007). My PLN Banner. [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathplourde/4618916837/