Creating Your Personal Development Plan

With it being April, the countdown to the end of the school year has begun and, in some classrooms, the number of remaining school days is on the board for all to see. Principals and school improvement teams are already in the planning phase for next year. Individually, many teachers are reflecting on the year and pondering summer professional development to fill instructional gaps or to learn about new tools they could use.

In the examples mentioned above, principals, improvement teams, and individual teachers are all engaged in “professional development planning.” Simply put, this phrase entails the creation of a strategy that accomplishes professional goals and objectives. The process forces each group to make intentional and deliberate decisions about their current and future status by taking action to improve knowledge, experience, and abilities.

How? How do you start planning professional development for yourself or your teams? That question sometimes brings paralysis for several reasons. First, it forces honest reflection on areas of strength or improvement and that makes us uncomfortable. I would encourage you to push into that discomfort because that is where you learn to shine! Second, there is a belief that our work, whether as teachers or leaders, is just fine the way. That thought is dangerous because every one of us can and should look to improve regularly. Finally, there are so many templates out there for professional development plans, and we get lost trying to find “the right one” instead of picking one and sticking with it.

To help give you a simple plan, the Stride Professional Development Center will offer 5 questions that can shape your planning for personal, professional development. Before we turn to them, let’s pause for just a moment. While the context here is planning for professional development, remember that these same questions can help you in your personal planning as well. Planning for improvement is a life skill – not just a career one.

1. Where am I right now? This question forces you to examine the context of your professional career – the good, the bad, and the ugly. It gives you an opportunity to think about position and practice but, more importantly, the progress of those you serve. To answer this question, you need to bring in both quantitative and qualitative data.

2. Where do I want to be in _____? The blank is one that you must individually complete because you, and you alone, determine the timeframe. This could be a simple plan for the next school year; or it could be part of something more complex (e.g., a larger 3-year plan that will need smaller parts to it).

3. What gaps of knowledge and/or skill do I currently have? If you were honest in the first two questions, then these answers become much clearer. This is where you build the bridge between current reality and the future dream. In this process, you can even go through and prioritize which of these are most important because, frankly, the solution itself may not yet exist. Look at what you can learn and use then build from there.

4. How, specifically, will I act to address those gaps and make progress? Now that you have identified knowledge or skill gaps, you create your plan to address them. Instead of immediately looking for a paid course, pause and reflect on what is available to you already. Think about books you will want to read or individuals you can converse with to learn. Find free resources, videos, blogs, or courses that may be offered or on YouTube. For instance, maybe you noticed lack of quality in video projects by your students and the Stride PD Center can help you via the blogs and video series we have in YouTube. If those are not enough, then turn to the paid courses.

5. When will I review and adjust this plan? When we deeply plan, we believe that it is the best that can be created; however, we need to remember this statement by Moltke (a 19th century Prussian Field Marshall): “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.” In other words, the best laid plans will need adjustment because future forecasts are always uncertain. We suggest that you, at a minimum, set quarterly reviews for a yearly plan. It would be better to examine your progress monthly as you are then able to make in-the-moment adjustments rather than waiting too long.

In summary, professional development planning starts with knowing where you are, stating where you want to go, identifying what you need to get you there, choosing specific next steps, and then pausing periodically to review your progress. Professional development planning is a critical component of collective and individual success. Keep your eyes on your goals, monitor your development, and periodically review your plan. You can reach your professional development objectives and advance with the correct attitude and tools.

As a final thought, do not wait. Download the free resource and start planning your professional development today.

Share the Post:

Related Posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Our Newsletter