Jill Kortright Wood
Professional development (PD) activities – workshops, courses, Communities of Practice, Peer Learning Groups – are an important way to grow your classroom practice and keep up with trends in our field. For ECE professionals in Pennsylvania, the PA Key PD Registry catalogs a wide range of PD opportunities in a handy one-stop format (papdregistry.org). Local professional organizations, your colleagues, and your Early Learning Resource Center (ELRC) are also important resources for professional growth. However, all that choice can be confusing!
There may be times when you select a PD activity because it appeals to your personal interests, but often PD is connected to your classroom’s or program’s continuous quality improvement (CQI) goals. While it’s always great when PD connects to both your personal interests and CQI goals, there will be times when you need to make an informed choice. Selecting PD also means thinking about how to spend time and money smartly. So how can you sift through the choices to identify activities that are informative and meaningful?
Start with your program or classroom CQI plan and pick out some specific areas from your goals. Are you focused on room arrangement, child-directed play, guiding behavior, intentional teaching? A recent program quality assessment may have highlighted safety concerns or an opportunity to adjust your daily schedule. Use those keywords to start your search for professional development activities. Further refine your list by reviewing the training organization and facilitator information and the description of the activity. For example:
- You want to learn more about program quality assessment and searching the PD Registry gives you two different types of events.
- You see that the training events lead by a PA Key Program Quality Assessor were developed in consultation with the assessment instrument authors and will give you specific detail about program quality assessment and the role it plays in Keystone STARS.
- Training on assessment led by a community organization is described as a general overview of the assessment instruments.
- Your CQI goal is to grow intentional teaching practices.
- A session about assessing interactions using a Program Observation Instrument could help you track progress toward your goal.
- A session about responsive interactions offered by a Technical Assistance Specialist or Master Teacher may offer insight on the practice and ideas that you can try out in your classroom.
Whether you attended a class, viewed a webinar, or read an article make the most of your learning by sharing ideas and thoughts with your co-workers. Find at least one key point or take-away you’ve learned that you can use to grow your professional skills. Don’t forget to use your Professional Development Profile on the PD Registry to track your learning activities and plan for ongoing professional growth.