Setting Personal Professional Development Goals

What is the last new idea you implemented in your classroom?

Pretty simple question, right? Would you visit a hairstylist who didn’t keep up with the latest styles? Or a doctor who used techniques from the 1980s? Of course not. As teachers, we should be constantly evolving and growing in our craft. Our classroom today should not look like our classroom looked last year. Our instructional techniques should change as we reflect on their effectiveness and acquire new ideas about best practices.

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As we get caught up in the hustle and bustle of our daily teaching duties, we can’t let professional growth slip through the cracks, and professional development needs to go beyond the occasional workshop. I challenge you to reflect on your professional growth and set personal professional development goals, and I offer these three suggestions to include in your plan.

Read Professional Books

At my school, we when interview prospective teachers we ask them to tell us about a book they have read recently to further their professional growth. I find the candidate’s response to that question as interesting as the answer. I have seen way too many startled or confused looks in response to that question. Candidates who stammer to produce the name of one book they have recently read to improve their craft.

It’s hard to read a good book and not get excited about trying something new. Set a goal to read one professional book each quarter. That’s three months to read a book and implement at least one new idea. Look for online book studies to join. Recruit colleagues from your building to join you. Need some suggestions for books that will transform your teaching? Try one of these:

  1. Guided Math (2nd Edition), Laney Sammons
  2. Teaching Math at a Distance, Theresa Wills
  3. What Great Teachers Do Differently: 17 Things That Matter Most, Todd Whitaker
  4. Mathematize It!, Kimberly Morrow-Leong, Sara Delano Moore, and Linda M. Gojak

Connect with Educators Online

We live in a connected world. We are not restricted to participating in learning communities only within the walls of our campus or even our district. Our professional learning communities are now global. We can connect with educators across the state, the country, and even the world. Twitter is one of the most powerful tools in your professional development arsenal. Educators have found a home and a voice on Twitter. Any day of the week, you can participate in a Twitter chat, discussing a wide range of topics. There are grade level-specific chats, general teaching chats, and content-related chats.  Most chats happen weekly on the same night and time each week. Check out this education chat calendar for a comprehensive list of chats.

Set a goal for yourself to participate in one Twitter chat each month. I have a suspicion that once you get involved, once a month won’t be enough!

Join a Professional Organization

Your professional resume should include membership in at least one professional organization. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) is the largest mathematics education organization in the world. They host regional and national conferences, provide online teaching resources, and publish books and journals. Membership includes a subscription to one journal, and you can choose from several journals to meet your needs (elementary, middle school, etc.).  Even if you are not a member, you can access free previews of selected journal articles, like this one on using multiple models for teaching fractions. This brochure outlines all the benefits of membership and includes pricing. If you choose to join, please note that I referred you by using my name (Donna Boucher) and Member ID (3102769).

There you have it! Will you pledge to set personal professional development goals this year? Please add a comment and share your commitment to life-long learning.

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  1. thanks for this idea Donna….I have to submit an updated Personal Development Plan each year and I am about to do mine..so this post was very timely. I had never thought to add the professional books I have read/plan to read…..but I will now!!

  2. What a great post Donna! As a math coach I certainly know the benefits of and have a love for professional growth. I wish that we could pass that love of learning on to all teachers. Unfortunately in our district, some teachers, especially those from more affluent schools don’t see it’s importance.

  3. My professional goal is to Keep Sharing. Educators often live in silos – never leaving the classroom. Educators have to be willing to share the great, discuss the mistakes and welcome the comments. The only way for us to continue to grow and learn is to keep sharing! Thanks for your great blog posts – they always inspire!

  4. I am currently taking a self-paced online course offered by Stanford University entitled ” How To Learn Math: For Students”. Not only is the course free, and I am learning a great deal about how students best learn mathematics, I am also learning to be a better Math Instructional Specialist & teacher of Mathematics, as a result of the information presented. I encourage all educators to take advantage of this opportunity from Stanford! I have included the link for any interested parties who may read this response.


  5. Get on Twitter and connect with other that share your interests and goals. Be a part of the MTBoS “mathtwitterblogosphere” community of math educators

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