Tuesday, September 29, 2015

5 Steps to Personalizing Professional Development without Technology

Teaching can be a lonely place.  As educators we need to do a better job of connecting with others especially fellow educators in our buildings and districts. 
Many educators and educational experts talk about educators connecting through social media.  I would agree with that.  Educators should connect through different tools and applications such as Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram and others.  But to grow as educators in our buildings and district, I believe peer-to-peer communication and interaction is most beneficial for overall growth of local educators and students in our communities.

Relationships, along with efficient and effective learning environments, are vital pieces in the foundation of outstanding schools.  As educators, we need to use the growth possibilities that exist in our own schools and districts.  The growth possibilities are created by the relationships with other educators in the buildings and district.  As educators, we eat with each other, work with each other, but do we really reflect and utilize each other’s practices and methods?  Do we take the time to go into other teachers’ classrooms and learn from them?  Do we gain knowledge from other educators’ instructional methods and provide them feedback on their methods? 

We need to make teaching a public act and open ourselves to learn from each other.  This is easier said than done due a number of reasons.  The most prominent is usually the lack of time educators have to instruct, plan, research, and develop professionally each year.  So how can we help educators grow from their peers?  Let’s look at five areas to focus on to find this growth:

Talk with other teachers
See what teachers in your building are doing.  Listen to what other teachers are doing.  Find out what you want to do in your classroom and who already does it well in your building.  Hosting a building or district EdCamp is an excellent way to do that.  There will be a variety of sessions on different methods and tools that will expand your instructional practices.

Make it a point to take the time
As mentioned above, we are all looking for more time.  Take time out of your day, whether it is during your lunch or conference period, to visit other classrooms.  Do it for no other reason than helping students.  Work with your department team to create a schedule where each of you may be able to visit other educators and learn something new from them.  Learn from observation and don’t leave any excuses on the table.  If you want to get better, make it happen!

Go cross curricular
Stretch yourself and visit classrooms outside of your department.  Observe what the educator and students accomplish and visualize how you will use the same thing or something similar in your classes.  Build partnerships with other teachers for the greater good of the building.  Again, EdCamps are a great way to start leanring from others in your building.

Share your experiences
Let other educators know what you experienced.  Share it in a building email, staff meeting, department meetings, or even in the hallways.  Sharing our experiences helps the overall growth of the building and again allows others to visualize.

Change the culture
As more and educators take the time to learn from other educators in the class setting, the professional development mindset of the building will change.   Make it a part of the vision of the building and model for others.  As more teachers begin to visit other classes, trust begins to play a larger role around the building and fosters growth for all.

Teaching can be a lonely place if you don’t allow your teaching and others teaching to become an observation of work.  Work with other educators to share practices and methods to help our students grow by utilizing all of the educators in the building, not just the ones they have each period.


  1. These are such great tips, Bobby. My favorite is encouraging teachers to visit other teachers. One of my aha moments as an educator came during my first year as an assistant principal and I got to visit classrooms. It was then that I wished that I had visited more teachers' classrooms while I was a teacher!
    Thanks for these!

    1. Thanks Jennifer. Teachers definitely need to grow from each other by visiting their classes.