Go To Professional Development

As I’m plugging away at my new unit on safety (which will be awesome, by the way), I’m just reminded of how I got to this point after a year of trials and tears, and one of the most important things I think new teachers just HAVE to do is to seek professional development, all the time, every day.

My plan for my first day of class only really solidified the day before when I was reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I wouldn’t have really done anything with science notebooks except for the fact that I attended the National Science Teacher Association conference in San Francisco last year, and my curriculum this year is coming directly from Achievement First, whose science teacher training I joined after asking Achievement First if I could crash their new teacher orientation during the summer.

Notice that the important word is “seek.” It is NOT enough to just take the professional development that your training program gives you. Instead, figure out what is most helpful to you (for me, it’s reading books and attending seminars), what your goals are for the year (for me, it’s differentiation, technology integration, project based learning, data-driven instruction, and inquiry based science), and go out and learn, explore, absorb as much as humanly possible. It will all pay off as those hours of thinking and development start connecting to each other.

Good places to seek professional development:
http://www.twitter.com (follow #edchat and other chats like #4thchat or #scichat)
– Network with educators you admire and ask them to introduce you to their mentors
– Network with schools and school districts you admire (KIPP, Achievement First, etc.) and ask to join their professional development
– Make your desire for professional development clear to your administration, and they’ll remember you when opportunities come up
– Any more? Please add in the comments section!

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