Defining Professional Development
The development of any individual, group, or project implies growth, progress, or an advancement from its original form. If you were to look up the definition for professional you would see its most common correlation to that of an occupation.
It goes without saying then, that professional development provides an opportunity for growth or progress in your given occupation. Unfortunately, I think we are overlooking one very significant aspect within our definition of professional.
Is the connection to a specific occupation enough to gain development in that area? Just as we consider the obstacles that hinder student learning in the classroom, we should also consider what is standing in the way of educators’ learning.
Providing professional development does not automatically yield individual or communal development. Educators must be willing, ready, and eager to be developed. It is for this reason that I prefer to see professional development as an outcome rather than a process.
I have defined professional development as: the professional advancement possible when the content, delivery, and participant engagement are aligned.
While content and delivery are integral aspects of successful professional development, I believe participant engagement is paramount. No matter how impressive your program is, you will not see the professional advancement possible without engaged participants.
When I consider my own professional development, every day provides new opportunities for growth. The freedom to pursue areas that interest me, the responsibility I have to lead an organization, and the love I have for learning, thrust me toward a new version of myself every day.
Perhaps the most significant choice I have made for my own personal and professional development has been to join an eduprenuer mastermind. Being a part of a community with other business leaders in the education space challenges me relationally, intellectually, and personally.
Daniel Bauer, with Better Leaders Better Schools, is an exceptional coach and mastermind leader. The content provided for our weekly meetings is poignant and purposeful. The delivery interjects moments of fun and formality. My heightened engagement comes from the authentic community, sense of belonging, and support provided as I persevere through my own unique challenges.
Authenticity is frequently overlooked, often unknown, and only presents itself in the right environment. As education leaders, you have the unique ability to help educators better understand themselves and create an environment conducive to authenticity.
I feel fortunate to be a part of a professional development group that prioritizes authenticity. Danny puts deliberate thought and attention into developing a community of authentic leaders. The most valuable lesson for us is being able to see him model it.
My own struggle to “fit in” haunted me throughout childhood and is still with me today. While I have not successfully uprooted this weed, from the garden that is my life, I would not be where I am today without it. Cultured Kids’ mission is to unify school communities. Enhancing students’ sense of belonging is a key ingredient in achieving this outcome.
This lack of belonging may have kept me from immediately being my authentic self in my mastermind group, but it has enabled me to connect with my work in a more authentic way.
It was through the consistent authenticity fostered in our edupreneuer mastermind, witnessing other leaders share candidly, and through the passing of time, that I finally feel like I belong.
There are two reasons why this sense of belonging matters so much when it comes to professional development in your school community:
Authenticity and belonging play a significant role in the challenges we face on a day to day basis. How well you know yourself will dictate how you respond to challenges presented. The level of belonging you feel with colleagues will determine if you share your challenges with them.
It is as important to understand the challenges your teachers are facing in the classroom as it is for their life challenges to be understood. A plethora of research has been done on student development and learning. We know that a child’s life experiences directly affect their ability to learn. Yes, this stage of development for children is different than you would experience as an adult, but the concept remains the same: the challenges we face impact how we learn and grow. Additionally, the challenges your teachers face impact how they teach!
As a nonprofit leader I am careful to create healthy boundaries between me and our board of directors, staff, volunteers, donors, clients, etc. In order to grow as a professional and as an organization I need to have a space to share hard things and I need people I trust to provide authentic and productive feedback. You and your educators would benefit from the same opportunity.
Calls To Action
Level up your own professional development!
Better Leaders Better Schools serves school leaders. Interested in what this may
look like? Order, Mastermind Unlocking Talent Within Every School Leader for some insight. Or, connect with Danny and join a mastermind.
Level up your educators professional development!
Give your teachers a safe space to share life and classroom challenges with other like-minded professionals. Supply them with a community of educators to support, encourage, and challenge them. Jeanne Wolz with Teacher Off Duty provides a personal, relational, and intellectual professional development mastermind experience for educators.