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Taking Charge of Your Professional Development

Taking proactive steps to create a professional development journey you love is fundamental to your enjoyment of your career.

Stagnation kills your joy, but so do meaningless PD hours done merely so you can keep up with your certification.

Arts integration and STEAM approaches to teaching open delightful worlds to explore and to use as professional development (depending on your school and district).

Here are three ideas for mapping out a PD course that is approved by you and by your admin.

1. Create an Arts Integration Curriculum Map

Around January, begin mapping out the art and literature standard you want to integrate in the following year. If you're in a pbl school, outline the skills you'll need to teach in each discipline you're integrating.

Once you have your map and have it approved by the appropriate people, you can begin to design your PD around your gaps in both ELA and the arts.

Even if you aren't teaching the art standards, it's helpful to take a class in the art form you're integrating so you have an understanding of the struggles your students will face as well as an understanding of what should be assessed. Plus, you'll grow as a person (even if you're really really bad at the art)!

2. Do a Cultural Deep-Dive

Most of my professional development has centered on making early British literature understandable and palatable to high schoolers.

That quest has taken me to stage combat workshops, Historical European Martial Arts classes, tablet weaving ventures, harp and lyre lessons, interactive writing classes, leather working, and, now, adventures in cloisonné.

I don't necessarily teach these things in class, but I bring in examples I've made and show pictures of the process to inspire my students to always be learning and to give them a deeper cultural understanding.

Spending a year or two (or ten!) on short term workshops and long-term classes centered on a culture or era will provide you with endless PD options.

3. Focus on authors and their influences

My dream sabbatical is to take a year and focus entirely on the art and literature incorporated in The Wasteland.

I also want to study The Shahnameh and Ferdowsi's life, and...and...

This kind of learning is endless, and, as teachers, we have the option of switching things up when we're bored.

What has been your favorite PD experience and why?

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Although this doesn’t apply to me as a teacher, I can totally agree that learning will improve work in your chosen field. Your posts are really interesting!

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