Ok to be completely honest, this picture doesn’t go perfectly with my post, but once I saw it I had to include it.
I have been thinking about Professional Growth Plans (henceforth PGPs… because I am lazy). I read a post from the principal of the school I am going to be working at next year and I got to see the type of reflective practices that go on within the walls of the school. Amazing stuff, and I am pretty excited to have the chance to work with all of these amazing educators next year.
Reading their year-end reflections and then reading a number of posts about ways to learn this summer made me think about the timing of our PGP’s. We enter our schools in late August, prepare for our year, set up our classrooms and in the first few weeks, meet with our administration to go over our PGP’s for the year. The end of June, we sit down again with our administration, review and reflect on our PGP’s and then move forward. Something about that doesn’t seem right to me. What about that 7 week period in the summer? Where is that in the plan. We have the largest single period of time where we are free to pursue any growth avenue we may desire, but it rarely enters into our PGP. Of course, many, if not most, teachers are doing some professional learning over the course of this time, and many have made ambitious plans for the improvement they want to create during this time. That being said, shouldn’t the PGP process include this great opportunity within it?
If we as educators are to model the lifelong learning ideal, we need to walk the walk as well, at EVERY opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t for one minute think we should make this an expectation, or dictate to teachers that they must learn, but I do believe it should be something we address in our PGP. Maybe with a question of “Do you have any plans to work on professional learning throughout your summer?”
For me, the learning I did in the summer was often sporadic, random and reactive to whatever book I saw or interview I heard. I have never PLANNED for my learning in the summer. Until now. I have a fairly ambitious plan to learn a great deal about Inquiry (a focus in my next school), parental involvement (an area I need to improve in) and many technology related topics. I am planning to read a number of books, to sit down and work with some of the technology I want to use with my students and parents, and of course, some time to relax, recharge and enjoy the time I have. I feel I have to make this plan because I have a desire to make use of the time, because for once I am not working through the summer, and because I am excited about the coming year and need to focus my energy.
Whether it is something we look to include in our PGP process, or if we as professionals choose to make a plan on our own, I think this can be a valuable way to maximize our time. Lifelong learning means year-round learning to me, so for this summer I plan on filling my July and August calendars with some scheduled professional learning. After that, I’ll probably finish my day by “Being happy and going home” (see picture above if that makes no sense!).