As a younger teacher, I had an unquenchable thirst for professional development. Anything I could get my hands on to read, watch, or listen to was never enough. I would dig into different curriculums and books by any teacher who was at the top of my profession and go to as many professional development conferences as possible. I wanted to learn it all NOW, but it took a considerable amount of time and energy to learn a lot of the information. I look back amazed at everything I was able to do. Now, I sit here in a position to help others develop through many avenues.
When I think about it all, pursuing professional development was key to allowing me to help others develop. There was no straight path. It was hard, and I wanted to quit many times. But I fought through the tough times, learned from them, and moved forward step by step. As the famous proverb goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I am glad I took those steps and you should too, which is why I am writing this. Consider this a letter of encouragement about why you need to develop professionally and NEVER STOP!
First, let’s define professional development. It’s not just those series of meetings you attend before the school year starts. No, no, no, that’s not development. That’s a part of your job. Professional development, as I see it, is any act, small or large, where you add teaching tools to your toolbelt. Here are some examples:
You take part in Twitter chats regularly
You go to your state or national PE conference
You attend a development session through your district
You take part in discussions in Facebook groups that are PE centric
You read some PE material, including blogs, journal articles, books, and resources
You meet with a colleague regularly to plan
You take online courses
You see the general pattern. Development involves learning something new from your colleagues. It’s that simple! Now let’s take a look at why professional development is important.
Keeps You Focused and Energized
Professional development gives you something to improve in your teaching. In doing so, it also helps give you a fresh perspective. Plus, being around others who want to learn as well is invigorating.
Keeps You Up to Date
Staying up to date on your profession is important. Things change in our industry, even though education is associated with slow growth. There is always a new study that sheds some light on an old topic, a new way of doing something, or a new idea worth checking out, especially with technology advancing the way we teach and students learn. We have to develop and adapt to stay on top of our game.
Gets You Outside Your Comfort Zone
It can be so easy to sit in your world of teaching and not leave that bubble. It can feel comfortable and cause complacency. But by stepping outside that bubble, you will see that there are some great things to learn that are not so scary and that will not force you to change too much at once. Development, as I have said, takes time, years even.
Oh, the People You’ll Meet
One of the best ways to meet new, like-minded professionals is through professional development. I have met amazing and talented people at the many conferences I have been to. Those relationships have helped me grow and learn. Even today, 16 years in, I am not done learning or building relationships.
There Is Always Something
One of the great things about professional development is that there is always something to learn! Even if it’s a slight variation of something you already do, you will learn something new. Furthermore, that slight variation may one day come in handy for you. So don’t discount an opportunity because you think you have nothing to gain from it. You may just learn something different.
It Can Be Fun
Most development opportunities can be fun, especially if you are passionate about what you are going to learn. I know some of the better times I have had teaching were at development sessions. I enjoyed the comradery, energy, movement, and change of pace.
Professional training offers a chance to get out of the classroom for a bit, which can be a nice break for you and your students. Sometimes, we all need a break. Thus, taking a day or weekend to go to a workshop during the year can be all you need to refresh.
Professional development also accomplishes the following:
Sets a great example for your students
Helps you find opportunities you would have otherwise not known about
Helps others grow
Sets you apart from the pack
There you have it! Learning and growing your teacher toolbox is not only necessary but also has many benefits. From learning new things to meeting new people to getting out of a rut, it is worth the time, effort, and, in some cases, money to be a lifelong learner. Who knows, it may even keep you from aging. Happy teaching!
Charles Silberman is a physical education and health teacher with 15 years of teaching experience. He has become a leader and advocate for incoming physical educators by running workshops on teaching in limited space at staff in-services and conferences, assisting with new teacher orientations, and other initiatives. Moreover, he has experience writing curriculum from scratch and writing published information specific to physical education in state and nationally recognized publications and websites. In addition, he has developed and teaches online physical education related courses and is the founder of www.newphysicaleducator.com.
Check out Charles Silberman's Online Learning Course on S&S Worlwide
Integrating Literacy into Your Physical Education Program
Course begins June 25, 2018 and ends on August 3rd 2018 (5 weeks). You must register for this course by June 24th.
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