By Robyn Ladner, teacher and BCTF Professional Issues Advisory Committee chairperson, Vernon
Teachers, like students, have different learning styles and needs. Our professional development (PD) activities should reflect this. Research tells us that the most effective PD occurs when teachers are in control of their own learning. The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted how teachers engage in PD opportunities. Time together in-person at conferences or in collaboration isn’t possible. Webinars and online conferences are often our only choices on PD days. Many teachers, weary of this format, are turning to self-directed PD as an option of supporting their growth. But where do you start and how can you move forward?
Choices for self-directed PD should be made carefully. A starting point is reflecting on your practice and teaching needs. What are you interested in improving or knowing more about? What additions and improvements to your professional repertoire would best support the needs of your students? What parts of your teaching practice do you want to strengthen?
You can use such guiding questions to create a set of goals or ideas that can be referred to when looking for PD opportunities. Themes and areas of interest begin to reveal themselves and can guide you as you search for and browse learning experiences that may fit your needs.
Self-directed PD can be transformational. It is a method in which teachers are truly in control of their learning experiences, in their own time, and under their own conditions.
Some options to consider when creating your self-directed PD plan:
- Read educational journals, books, or articles.
- Engage in a teacher inquiry project or form a teacher research group.
- Conduct online research of a professional topic of interest.
- Watch professional videos online.
- Develop and/or facilitate a workshop for colleagues.
- Develop and/or publish a professional resource/article.
- Research, plan, and pilot a new or innovative program for your classroom.
- Pilot or develop new materials for a specific subject area.
- Apply for grant programs that could benefit your class or school.
- Enrol in an online course or webinar.
- Observe another teacher.
- Go for a walk on the land to prepare for place-based learning opportunities.