Using professional learning as an opportunity to evolve enables educators to grow and positively impacts the lives of students, the school, and the district community

3 tips for maximizing the impact of professional learning


Using professional learning as an opportunity to evolve enables educators to grow and positively impacts the lives of students, the school, and the district community

By actively embracing the professional learning experience, rather than being a passive participant, educators find more meaning in what they learn, improving the experience for them–and for myself

#2 Be comfortable with vulnerability

About 12 years ago, I decided to start recording my classes so that students could go back and review previous lessons. I recorded several videos–about eight–over a two-week period.

When I went back to watch the recordings, I deleted all eight videos in the first five seconds. I didn’t like the sound of my voice, or what I was doing with my hands. My hair didn’t look great that day–my classroom was a mess.

Going back and watching yourself, or sharing a recording of yourself with someone else, is a challenging thing to do.

But, again, I was doing this for the students–not for myself. So, I recorded new videos and made myself watch each of them. This was an “aha” moment. I realized that almost all the things that went well during class were things I had not built into that day’s lesson but were done on the fly.

There were also things I realized I needed to work on, that I’m still working on to this day. Like many of my fellow teachers, I can be a fast talker, and, especially when I’m tired, I have a thick Southern drawl, and when that comes in, it can be hard to understand what I’m saying. More aware than ever, I took what I learned and revised my teaching.

Video became an invaluable reflective tool for me. In every role, I’ve leaned on video to drive sustainable change.

I’m a huge advocate for professional learning opportunities that use video to drive reflection and change. Even if video isn’t built into a PD opportunity, educators can still use it to self-monitor the implementation of a strategy they learned, look at student learning, and identify what is (or isn’t) working in the classroom.

#3 Reflect and follow through

In education, it is not hard to find new ideas and instructional strategies. It can be hard to change our practice, however. That’s where reflection comes in.

Reflection is central to how our mindsets work and how we shift our behavior. Allowing time for doing “the dirty work”—applying what we’ve learned and then reflecting on our progress—is a key ingredient to successful PD.

Learning never stops.

Whatever field you’re in, you’ve got to keep learning. If you don’t have a good grasp on where you are or where you’re supposed to be, that can be near impossible.

Using professional development as an opportunity to learn and evolve does not only enable educators to grow, but also to positively impact the lives of their students, school, and district community.

Cory’s Top 5 Personal Growth Books.

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