My husband is an eighth grade ELA teacher. We often find ourselves having conversations about our day. One night he was mentioning he had to step into a colleagues room for a few minutes and he noticed some really innovative engagement techniques. He was immediately thinking about how he might try this with his students. This conversation reminded me that professional development really can happen anytime and anywhere if we just take the time to find opportunities to observe and collaborate with our colleagues. Today I’m going to share a few ways I create my own PD with the help of my colleagues.
So how do we take action and develop our own professional development? We start by motivating those around us, developing our craft, and leading by example.
My colleagues and I set aside time multiple times a month for specific topic discussions. In addition, we have one weekly meeting together before school to just talk about whatever is immediate. This weekly meeting is what helps keep our more focused meetings tighter. We can get the field trip and upcoming event details out of the way so that when we meet for our monthly ELA meeting, it is focused on ELA topics. These weekly meetings have also really helped bring us together as a group. We can just talk shop, laugh, and share crazy stories.
Observe and Teach With Each Other
Each year I make a point to visit other teachers and their classrooms spanning grade levels. I try to set up times that I can go in and teach their class as well as visit while they are teaching. The time for this is when my own students are with other teachers such as music or gym class. Observing my colleagues and then also getting the opportunity to work with their students gives me a wider window of learning for myself, especially when I reach outside of my grade-level. Seeing teachers and students that are above or below your comfort level can really open your eyes to where students are coming from and where they are going. It’s also nice to come back and talk about the observation or shared teaching experience.
Asking a trusted colleague to video tape you can be eye opening. This past year I asked some colleagues to videotape conferences with students because I was curious if I was sticking to my philosophies of less praise and more constructive conversation. It was great to watch them later and reflect on how the conversations went with my students.
When working with colleagues, it’s important to remember you are all in this together. Lead by example and be the positive link that helps everyone work toward the same goal. It’s not about who is better it’s about everyone getting better. When a colleague offers a suggestion, humbly listen and reflect. Be open and create a dialogue. There will always be colleagues that are easier to work with and those who make the workplace more challenging. Align yourself with like-minded folks and build a network.
Consider trying to encourage and engage with your colleagues to create opportunities for growth. Visit each other’s classrooms. Just looking at different room arrangements, charts on the wall, and organization techniques can motivate you to take action in your own classroom.
Upcoming Event Announcement:
Stacey, Dana, Deb, and I will be presenting together at the EdCollab Gathering on April 2nd at 2:00 p.m. If you haven’t watched previous gatherings they are completely free, registration free, and you can watch while wearing your pajamas! We will be discussing how to maximize independent writing time by creating conferring toolkits. We hope you will join us and be sure to share your comments and questions on Twitter!
Daughter, sister, wife, mother, teacher, and writer.