Professional (and Personal) Transformation: The Value of Ongoing, Personalized Professional Development
Now that you have evaluated your beliefs and begun to implement some new strategies, your classroom is likely feeling transformed, positive, and engaging. How will you keep that feeling alive, fresh and palpable?
Reflect, reflect and reflect. One critical component in today’s teaching and education university programs is called “reflection.” Reflection involves looking objectively at our own practices and the happenings inside of our classroom in order to gain new perspectives and solve problems.
Step 1: Describe
In order to reflect, begin by choosing one event from your day, and describing that event (up to ten minutes in length) either in a journal, or aloud to a friend. For example, you may be reflecting back about a lesson that students had difficulty implementing. In your description, you can include a step-by-step recap of how you taught, questions asked, questions answered or unanswered, and the issues that arose over the course of your lesson.
Step 2: Analyze and Assess
On your own or with a peer teacher, evaluate the description, and ask questions. What went according to plan? How did this lesson veer off course? What worked, and how do you know? What seemed like it wasn’t a success?
Step 3: Brainstorm the Alternatives
Finally, generate alternative actions and perspectives regarding your description. Are there other avenues for meeting the learning objective in today’s lesson? How can you meaningfully change the lesson to improve in the future? Were there classroom management issues that arose, and what strategies may serve to remedy them?
Humility as Strength
Being truly reflective requires a tremendous level of honesty, and humility to acknowledge that teaching is an art and an ongoing work in progress. It is recommended to engage in reflection personally in a journaling format or aloud using a voice recorder with playback. If you decide to reflect with a peer teacher, choose someone you trust and can learn from, who maintains a positive attitude and is genuinely committed to improving his/ her practice.
Other Avenues for Growth
In addition to reflecting, there is so much you can do on your own to develop professionally. Chances are, if you are reading this article, you are already doing it! Keep reading posts on the web, and try checking out the latest TED talks in the field of education or social sciences. Look for shining examples in your school environment or elsewhere, and observe what these educators are doing that works! Stay open to trying new methods, and improving your practice. Above all, take care of yourself and try to make your professional environment as happy and pleasant as possible!