Why Professional Development is Essential

As professional educators, we are called to embark on a journey of continual self-improvement and lifelong learning. But, what the journey looks like isn’t a one size fits all approach. This should sound similar, right? I mean we don’t approach the students in our classroom as though everyone learns in the same way, so why would we approach our own professional learning as though we need exactly what our teaching partner down the hall needs? Professional learning must be a part of our schoolwide culture, and this is evident in the “Take Action” portion of Embedding Professional Learning – Make Professional Learning a Priority. What a wonderful call to action outlined here:

  • Seek to make professional conversations integral to school life – this includes thoughtful, probing conversations that propel forward.
  • Stay focused on the literacy emphasis – targeted study of fewer, more powerful practices over a longer period of time in order to sustain change and improve results.
  • Establish teams that work well together – forge connections of open communication and clear goals across all grade levels.
  • Take responsibility for your own professional learning – join professional organizations, social media, book studies, conferences and become a part of your school’s professional learning leadership team.
  • Collaborate with colleagues – coach each other, build in time for collaborative conversations where you can push each other to solidify your thinking.
  • Participate in coaching experiences – having a trusting culture allows for a coaching experience to exist and creates the potential to greatly improve teaching through collaborating, planning, and co-teaching.
  • Evaluate the role and influence of any adopted program – figure out how to adapt, modify, or work around the program, as programs serve as resources and frameworks, not total curriculums.
  • Keep a reflection notebook – keep a notebook handy to keep a record of your thinking, insights, and questions.

These steps provide such a wonderful guide to get us thinking about how professional development can serve us. As an instructional coach, my primary role is to facilitate professional learning FOR teachers. I emphasize the FOR because I never want professional learning to be “done to” teachers. Professional learning, when done well, uses a teacher’s strengths and their curiosity to propel student learning forward.

I am a self-proclaimed nerd. I love to read professionally, attend conferences, and join professional organizations. You can find me “relaxing” by reading from one of the stacks of books that I have selected to become extremely excited about. I would consider myself to be a lifelong student, and I truly enjoy what I do. I enjoy being around children students as I do adult students. I love the way this chapter was written because once again, Regie Routman nails it on the head in so many ways with so many wonderful nuggets of learning in this chapter that I may have underlined nearly the whole chapter.

Again and again, I saw the importance of personal reflection in this chapter. The heart of professional learning should be about reflection – reflection of student learning, student and personal needs, philosophy, shared leadership, professional readings, and research. Teachers are powerful human beings by nature and seeking each other out to learn from one another’s expertise should also be a noted valuable tool that is mentioned repeatedly in this chapter. Your professional learning journey will no doubt shape not only your teaching, but it will challenge you to find, mentors that inspire growth and change within yourself. Who knows, you could quite possibly become one of those mentors that we read about someday.

Check out all of the posts from this book study by going to the Literacy Essentials webpage. There, you can select different articles to read and respond to and continue the conversation in the comments. In addition, consider joining our new Google+ Community to extend these discussions and connect with other literacy leaders.

Author: Paige Bergin

I am an Instructional Coach in Tulsa, OK and I have been in education for 16 years. I have a Masters in Educational Administration and Curriculum Supervision, am a National Board Certified Teacher and the recipient of the Presidential Award for Math and Science Teaching. I love working with teachers and administrators to set meaningful goals. I am a passionate educator who is determined to make a difference with teachers and students - one day at a time.

8 thoughts on “Why Professional Development is Essential”

  1. Hi Paige, I love the way you succinctly and thoughtfully highlighted your takeaways from “Take Action” in the Professional Learning section of Literacy Essentials and the special emphasis you gave to reflection, which is crucial to all learning. Thanks for this masterful post! With admiration, Regie

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Excellence, which is exactly what I would expect from Paige. She is a life long reflective learner and coach. I look forward to reading this book.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Virginia, you will absolutely love this book! It holds so much of what we know to be true and hope to honor as we design and deliver professional development. This book is all about so many of the conversations you and I had quiet often this past year.


    2. Thank you! Professional development really is my “gig” and a love of mine – both for myself and for others. I always want to go back to what the purpose is for what content we deliver to attendees, and what we want the “take away message” to be. I appreciate your feedback!


  2. Excellence, which is exactly what I would expect from Paige. She is truly a life long reflective learner and coach. I look forward to reading this book!


  3. Paige, I truly appreciate your comment about professional development “FOR” teachers as opposed to being “done” to teachers. All too often the later is at the forefront of what teachers are subjected too. I see the potential for shifts in thinking about PD starting to happen as more and more teachers are connecting via social media, attending edu camps, and reading profound blog posts such as yours. Great post acknowledging that professional development should be part of the school wide culture!


    1. Yes! Building a culture of responsive PD is an absolute must. We don’t want people being forced into something. It should always be a good use of a professional’s time. Thank you so much for your response!


  4. Great post about a chapter I loved as well! I agree with you in that reflection is a huge part of growth. Reflective, open teachers are the best role models for students. They get to see that everyone is learning every day, even their teacher.


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