Professional Development: A visit to the spa, not the dentist

To teachers, professional development is often akin to going to the dentist. Why, you ask? Every year, we get those dreaded emails telling us that we are required to attend an all-day workshop to help us improve professionally. What happens next? We sit in a cold room with someone we don’t know at the front, with a PowerPoint presentation―if we’re lucky, they have candy on the table and maybe a few fidget toys. Aside from that, it is a whole day of monotone reading verbatim from slides and the occasional “share out with your neighbor.”

While professional development is critical for us to remain at the top of our game, why couldn’t it be like a spa visit rather than going to the dentist? You would leave refreshed and ready to get back to work. How can we make this dream a reality? By being proactive and finding professional development opportunities that interest you. Try browsing the CEC website and explore the CEC division and unit professional development activities. Maybe there is a webinar you can attend or a conference you can go to that will satisfy that professional development requirement while you are doing something you want to do.

There’s always that one catch, the cost. Between conference registration, lodging, transportation, and food, one conference could set you back hundreds of dollars. But, there are ways to mitigate the cost. Try going with a group. If you share a hotel room, that could easily save you hundreds. Maybe you can rent a car and drive. Never avoid asking your administrator for funding, remember they want you to be the best you!

During the summer, spend a little time mapping out a professional development calendar for the upcoming school year. Try to do one thing every two months―be it a conference, a webinar, a new book you can talk over with your colleagues, or even an online course.  Get creative and remember professional development should be a visit to the spa and not the dentist.

CEC member, Richard Williams, contributed this content. 

Richard Williams is a special education teacher, who teaches students with emotional/behavioral disorders. Williams has worked in general education schools in self-contained EBD classrooms and two special education centers for students with severe EBD. He has a master’s in special education from Clark Atlanta University and is currently working towards a doctorate in special education from The George Washington University with a focus on students with EBD and transition plans and preparations for post-secondary life. In additions to his studies, he is working on two projects, one on the neurological and continuities ability for adolescents to effectively participate in their transition plans, and the quality of life outcomes for students with EBD in post-secondary school. An active CEC member, Williams has been a Reality 101 blogger as well as a member of the Yes I Can and Diversity Committees. Outside of the classroom, he is a plant-based lifestyle and animal rights advocate and runs a blog of book reviews and current events. In his spare time, he loves to read and go on hikes with his dog.

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