I am addicted to professional development books.
I know it is an addiction, or maybe an obsession would be a better word. I am one of those people who constantly try to get better at what I do. School ends, and I begin reflecting on what worked, what didn't, and what I want to change. Reading professional development books sparks change, encourages reflection and is a catalyst for new learning. As a result, I become a better teacher.
Typically each summer I choose a specific area in which to concentrate. The summer of 2012 was devoted to how to teach reading without using a basal. Last summer it was writing. I cannot yet divulge what this summer will be about - but hopefully I can by next week!
My stack of PD books constantly grows. Do I read each one from cover to cover? Most of the time, but not always. I may read bits and pieces or certain chapters with highlighter in hand, notes in the margins, and sticky notes poking out. There are a few books that I read every summer such as The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.
Here is my stack of new books to read this summer. Looking at this stack leaves me with many questions. What does professional development mean to me? What does it look like? How has it changed?
Professional development is important to me as a reflective teacher and learner, and it is becoming more important in teacher evaluations. Actually defining professional development is more difficult as social connectedness becomes stronger. Teachers are learning from other teachers via Twitter chats, blogs, and Facebook. Is this professional development? Is reading books written by experts in the field professional development?
I recently read a post on Edutopia titled "Professional Development: More Than Just a Checkbox on a Form." and written by Tom Whitby. It discusses the evolution of PD from full day conferences which are paid for by school districts, to do-it-yourself (DIY) PD which many teachers take part in today. Professional envelopment is rapidly changing. But are school districts keeping up with the changes?
The post further describes what they call "The Proof of Concept Model." Basically it suggests that when teachers take part in DIY PD and demonstrate their learning and new knowledge successfully in the classroom, it should count as professional development. I know I have learned so much by participating in chats, making connections with other educators across the country, and reading PD books. I take this information and use it in my classroom, tweaking it as I go. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. But it continues to challenge me, and I continue to be a learner and a better teacher. That is professional development!
"A real-world application of learned PD is far better than a piece of paper verifying seat time in a workshop." -- Tom Whitby