Professional Development is like the fertiliser needed for our mind, heart and soul, that nurtures and nourishes our professional profile and helps us broaden our horizons of possibilities. I have always been keen to grow and not always known the best course to do or afford the ones I could. Here is a quick guide to choosing the right PD for yourself!
Who is it for?
The first point to remember is that the PD must benefit you. You may be playing a multitude of roles, be it as a professional, as a parent, or as an individual with a distinct interest or passion. The PD is for you! The fact that it may look good on your CV or social media, is secondary and should not be the criteria for choosing it. Your colleague may encourage you to join a PD but will it meet your needs or fit your profile, is the question to ponder upon!
Why would you go for it?
Of late, I see a whole lot of buzz with professional development and people sharing their achievements online on social media platforms. It often gives me a window into the kinds of professional development people are choosing to showcase as valuable. How do we know whether it is valuable or not? Especially, with the lockdown everybody is online either training somebody or getting trained? But some of these ‘PD’s seem to be like sodas… all fizz, great taste but no good! As internationally minded educators, are we joining the rat race or following a herd mentality here?
You need to first identify for yourself your own needs and areas of interest as well as areas of improvement. Not to flash it on Linkedin! Would you be proud to have completed the training/course or having attended the webinar?
What will you gain out of it?
This is another crucial question to ask. On one hand we need to verify the authenticity of what we are doing and on the other, it must be meaningful and worthwhile.
It is always a good practice to seek or search recommendations for courses you want to take. It could be a colleague or you could just google the organisation or company offering that PD. What is their track record? Many companies have hefty names or titled to their PD but we must also find out how authentic a certification from them is. Another thing that I have been checking over the last one year, is whether the organisation is offering these courses only due to the pandemic or do they offer regular face to face courses otherwise, which have now been stalled. A bit of groundwork combined with a word of mouth feedback from a peer, always will steer you in finding out whether the PD will be of substance and value!
Once you have verified the authenticity, look at the focus area of the PD. Is it what you need or want? Good Professional Development sessions must build on your prior knowledge or experience, as that will give you always a degree of familiarity and comfort. At the same time it must extend what you already know and can do, unless of course, you are taking a refresher course if you have been out of practice. You don’t need to do all the courses available, even if you can afford it. The course is truly worthwhile when you are able to mull over it, soak in the learning and manifest it in your work life. This pause and reflect time needs to be accounted for before you sign up for back-to-back PDs.
How can you follow up?
I almost started talking about this in the previous section. There have been professional development sessions that I have taken in the past, which I don’t recollect because it never was relevant. When a course is authentic, relevant and purposeful, you will cherish your notes and the connections you build with your peers. You will revisit the concepts and strategies that you learnt. This cycle of pause, reflect, manifest, is a good one to follow up the course with.
Good, well-designed PDs always have a follow up course that supports you either in practice or builds on the previous learning.
In the end, I just wanted to emphasis on the 4 Rs of PD that can help you decide on which one is right for you: