The Practice of Professional Growth Part 1

You might have guessed that the topic of professional growth is something that is near and dear to my heart. Our entire business was created to provide continuous opportunities for teachers and parents to reflect upon their practices. It may seem like a convenient focus for a blog post but in reality it is something that has weighed heavily on my heart for a long time.

I’ve worked with children and families for the past twenty years. I started out on this journey working part-time in a childcare center. I was not prepared at all to spend my days with young children. I had no understanding of child development, behavior management or even how to set up a classroom. I knew even less about the importance of professional development. I often found myself at make & take workshops to earn my required continuing education credits. While I had a lot of fancy file folder games I gained no skills or knowledge that would help me grow in my teaching practices.  

It took several years and landing at an amazing preschool before all of this changed. Not only did this new teaching position open my eyes to the true potential of young children it gave me insights into professional growth that I had never experienced in the past. I was given articles to read and books to discuss. There were workshops held on-sight that I attended with my fellow teachers that allowed us to grow as a teaching community with a shared understanding of concepts. The information gained during these workshops was applied directly to our teaching practices and was incorporated into our staff meetings through discussions and reflections.

Although I was often on information overload I also had a craving for more and a new passion for working with young children. I found myself searching for articles to read on my own time and buying books that were not in my very meager budget. I wanted to discuss everything I was learning with everyone all the time! This love of researching and reading is still a huge part of my life.

At the beginning of this post I shared that the topic of professional growth weighs heavily on my heart. This is because although I had the privilege of participating in so many meaningful professional development opportunities during my career that is simply not the case for many educators. It breaks my heart when I hear that schools do not participate in professional development workshops because they are not required to or that teachers don’t know where to find courses that meet their needs.

Imagine going to a surgeon that’s been in practice for twenty years but has not once attended a training or conference to update their skillset. Imagine traveling on a plane with a pilot that was trained to fly a crop duster but not a 747. Would you feel safe with either of these individuals? Would you feel like they have your best interest in mind?  When we don’t take the time to reflect in our teaching practices, learn new information on best practices or dive deeper into our passions are we looking out for the best interest of our students?

True professional (and personal) growth can only happen if we are open to receiving information and reflecting upon our practices. It is wonderful when programs provide these opportunities for their teachers. If your program does not provide these opportunities or you are seeking a broader range of development it is within your power to search for opportunities for growth on your own. Read a book, download an article, listen to a podcast, follow a blog, go to a conference...feed your own curiosity and desire to grow. You deserve it!

In part 2 of this post I will share some of my favorite resources for professional development including articles, online course, podcasts, books, videos and more!