3 Simple Ways to Personalize Professional Development

While schools and districts offer formal professional development, all too often such opportunities are focused on a topic that doesn’t quite fit individual teachers’ needs, or is too basic or advanced to be effective.

And, while teachers themselves also have the opportunity to learn on their own, some struggle to find the time in their busy schedules to participate in self-driven learning.

One option that you hear more about every day is personalized professional development, a term for taking charge of your own professional growth by seeking out anytime, anywhere learning experiences that meet YOUR individual professional needs.

For those looking for a place to start, we’ve gathered together three quick tips to get you started personalizing your personal development right away:

  1. Watch and/or Participate in a Twitter Chat
    Twitter chats can be great learning opportunities that provide up-to-date (even up-to-the-minute) information from fellow educators experiencing the same things you are. There’s a chat for nearly every education topic you can think of, you can participate from your couch, a soccer game or anywhere you have internet access, AND IT’S FREE.

    You can check out this education twitter chat calendar, and we’d also like to suggest @JaimeDonally’s chat on Wednesdays at 8pm CST focused on augmented and virtual reality—check it out at #ARVRinEDU.
  2. Join or Start a PLC (Professional Learning Community)
    PLC’s are an excellent opportunity for creating your own professional development, hone skills, and improve student outcomes through action research. There’s a ton of great information in this PLC-focused course on Atomic Learning to find out more.

    Looking for ideas on what others are doing? The educators at one of Oklahoma City Public Schools collaborated as a group to take their recent 1:1 initiative even further. They utilized the school's existing PLC page on Facebook to openly collaborate and easily share tips and resources they found interesting—including Atomic Learning’s courses on Classroom Management in 1:1 Classrooms, Supporting Gifted and Talented Learners, and others.

  3. Make the Time to Apply It
    Ever been to a conference or attended a professional development session and come back with a ton of ideas? It’s an awesome feeling, but for most it can quickly transition into frustration. It can be easy to consume content and find all those wonderful ideas, but not always so easy to apply what you’ve learned to your classroom.

    There are a few steps you can take to make professional development easier.

    Start by taking notes
    Taking good notes while you are consuming new information not only gives you a reference when you get back to your classroom, but it can help you recall things more easily later on.

    Share your ideas with others
    It’s one thing to be the keeper of the knowledge you gained, but sharing that knowledge out can help you bounce ideas off others and formulate ways to integrate it into your classroom.

    Make time for implementing
    Sometimes the biggest hurdle to success is simply finding time. Make a point to dedicate time this coming year to bring what you’ve learned into your classroom. It will help you create the learning environment that is best for you, your fellow educators, and (of course) students.

While these are great places to start and peer-to-peer interaction is certainly beneficial, it’s also important to have solid best practices to fall back on, as well as a way to document professional learning.

With that exact idea in mind, Atomic Learning has developed a learning framework that focuses on four components:

  • LearnIt. Learn from Best Practices
    Professional learning resources focused on highly relevant topics
  • DoIt. Apply Learning to Life
    Activities to practice what you’ve learned
  • ShareIt. Connect & Get Feedback
    Collaborative tools to share and learn from others
  • ProveIt. Document Learning
    Assessments tools and progress monitoring

More simply put, this LearnIt. DoIt. ShareIt. ProveIt. format, when coupled with Atomic Learning’s robust library of professional learning resources, creates a powerful tool for personalized professional development. Check out this brief video.


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