Seeking professional development opportunities on an annual basis to support goals and accountability requirements can be frustrating. When searching for these opportunities, it's important to choose activities that will enhance your performance, increase your knowledge, and meet your end objective, which is to increase student performance. Professional development activities should increase your subject matter knowledge, sharpen your skills, and help you apply concepts to real world situations. The processes you choose should be grounded in research and based on the types of practices in your field as well as allow for collaboration with other professionals.
As a career advisor, I'm constantly searching for opportunities to improve my skills, but it can be difficult to find sometimes. Because of this, I use a mental step-by-step thought process to help me find activities that meet the criteria in my professional development plan.
- Step 1: Think through my professional development goals and objectives as well as how I want to better assist those I serve. I ask myself, How can I improve my skills in a way that influences improvement and change in the individuals I serve?
- Step 2: I connect with my contacts. I ask, Who does my organization work with that offers development courses that would allow me to effectively improve my skills?
- Step 3: Gather a list of professional development activities that align with my plan. I purposely make a large list with several options so I can select the most appropriate activities. Then I ask, What activities align with my plan's goals and objectives?
- Step 4: Discuss my findings with my supervisor and work collaboratively to decide which options are best for me. I ask, Will these activities support the goals and objectives of the organization?
- Step 5: Register for the event, learn, and apply my newly-acquired skills. I include all my activities, information, and certificates of completion with my professional development plan for easy access and tracking. I ask, How can I apply this information and utilize it within my position?
Finding professional development can be an easy process if you prepare ahead of time and select the appropriate resources. In the end, professional development is all about supporting those you serve as well as your personal, and organizational goals. Remember that it's important to find activities that align with your plan because that's what makes the entire process satisfying.
This article first appeared in the Kuder Blog July 31, 2014
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