My career changed when I decided it was time to push harder.
It probably sounds absurd, but I was sick of hearing that I was doing everything well, with no real constructive action to take.
So over the last few years, I put a plan into action to make change, taking major risks.
First, starting with National Board Certification (an undertaking I did alone and without the sanction or support of my school) gave me the chance to take a very deep and long look at my pedagogical practices.
This year-long process was my entry into deep reflection and movement forward.
Then came Twitter and blogging, which connected me with amazing educators, and then the doors started to open.
First, it was guest blogging opportunities and then books and then edcamps and more free learning all over. If we want to be the best versions of ourselves, we can't wait for others to either notice or help. We MUST take it upon ourselves to reflect, diagnose and take action accordingly, especially if we aren't getting what we need where we are. Once we understand our personal needs (like I would say to my students), then we can make the best decisions for our learning.
Plus, if we are going to promote that learning is self-driven, then shouldn't we be modeling this for students. Instead of complaining about school-led professional development or conferences we are "encouraged" to attend, what if we made the most of each of these situations and really took what we needed from them?
Not all students want to be in school, but they have to be and we tell them to find a way to make it palatable and interesting. We allow them to control the questions and give them the strategies. Why shouldn't teacher learning be the same?
At the end of the day, we make our own opportunities, so we can't complain about what isn't happening, but rather focus on what can be done and take that action accordingly. The best learning experiences are the ones we create for ourselves both in and out of school, so go find them.
Consider any or all of the following:
Read a book on a topic that intrigues you to improve classroom practice
Get involved in a Voxer group or book study
Take in a free conference or workshop like an Edcamp or district lead offering
Go to a convention somewhere else
Participate in a Twitter chat and then blog about what you've learned
Start a blog if you aren't blogging already
Watch a documentary
Try out a new app and think of ways it can apply to the classroom
Visit places that could be potential field trips for your students
Ask for help from someone you know that knows something you don't know
Reconnect with the spark that gets you excited about learning
Reflect on any or all of it in a way that works for you
What was the best professional learning opportunity you've had recently? What made it awesome?
This post originally ran on my Education Week Teacher blog in July of 2016