Saturday, May 21, 2016

5 Foolproof Professional Development Tips for the Educational Offseason



You hear the quote all the time from athletes around the world, “Champions are made in the offseason.”  For athletes, the offseason (or preseason) is when they get stronger, smarter, and better.  During the season itself, there usually isn’t enough time to put the required amount of work into the areas mentioned above.  They are simply too busy competing in games and matches.  While athletes practice and compete during their respective seasons, the offseason has always been known as the time where the expectations are to work and learn to prepare for the upcoming season.



If you think about it, the offseason for educators is the same as athletes.  While we may call it summer break and use a portion of the summer to relax and recharge, we also have an obligation to use it as a time to get stronger, smarter and better in our field.  With the help of social media, connected educators continue to grow during the school year.  But the summer is definitely a time when we don’t have so many things going on and can really focus on growing and getting better.

Follow the five tips below to have a strong offseason and help you improve as an educator:

 1. Create a Plan for What You Want to Accomplish this Offseason



We are all well aware of the research that states you have a better chance of accomplishing a goal when it is written down.  Be creative and plan a method of attack for your offseason.  Write it down.  What do you want to accomplish?  What do you want to learn more about?  Where do you want to get better?  Create a plan based on goals and efficiency.  Figure out what you need to do to get better and expand your learning.  If you want to read a certain number of books, then write it down which books you want to read and read them.  If you want to attend certain conferences, then plan for it. 

2. Focus on the “3 R’s”
These aren’t your traditional 3 R’s.  I’m talking about read, read and read.  Plan to read as many books as you want.  Learn how to use Flipboard and create magazines you can read each day to learn more about your passion.  Share what you are reading with others.  Use social media to share your thoughts about your readings.  Or share posts and articles you read via email with your colleagues.  When you read, visualize how you can use what you are reading to help your classroom and/or building.  Dedicate a portion of each day during your offseason to reading.  I am reading The 5 Choices: The Path to Extraordinary Productivity by Kory Kogon to help improve my productivity during each day.

3. Go to Conferences and EdCamps
Try to go to every conference and edcamp that you can.  The professional networking and opportunities to get better are limitless.  Whether the conferences are national or local, it doesn’t make a difference. They are opportunities to grow. 

My favorite form of professional development is participating in a couple of edcamps during the summer.  For example, this year I plan on participating in the international #EdCampLdr day on July 11th where there will be edcamps around the world focusing on leadership (Ohio’s#EdCampLdrOH will be at Clark Hall in Gahanna, OH once again!).  Take advantage of the opportunity to attend edcamps to learn from others in a nontraditional academic setting that will enable you to personalize your own professional learning.

4. Try Something New
At times, during the school year, we tend to backoff from trying new things because there is always a learning curve that takes time.  Find a new site to explore.  Work with some different apps to see if they can help you grow.  Look into different social media accounts to see if they can help your professionally (Hint: Facebook isn’t what it used to be.  Many people are now using it to grow professionally).  Try using Voxer to connect with others around the world to see what they are doing to grow this offseason.

5. Make Goals for the Upcoming School Year
Use the offseason to create goals for your classroom and/or building.  If you already have goals for next year, figure out an action plan for how you will accomplish your goals.  Think of the different evidence you will collect to accomplish your goals.  The offseason is the time to pinpoint which data you will collect during the year and how you will use it.  Don’t forget to focus on what you want to improve for the upcoming school year and research what you can use to make that happen. 


While I am definitely a beach guy and love to hit the sand and surf during the summer, I also know my offseason is approaching.  Its time to get better at what I do.  Learn more, grow more, and help my school and district get better.  Professional growth is always available.  As educators, we have to want to get better.  We have to want to be the best we can be for our students.  What better time to do that than the offseason.  Remember, all men are created equal, some just work harder in the preseason.