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5 Ways To Take Your Professional Development To The Next Level

January might bring you a new term, a new school year or a fresh year on the calendar. If you're making resolutions to shake up your teaching practices and reignite your passion for learning, look no further than these professional development approaches to help make this coming year your best (teaching) year yet!

Wherever you may be in the world – it’s likely you’re approaching a transitional moment in the year. As January approaches you may be gearing up for a new term, a fresh school year, or celebrating an entirely new year on the calendar. It’s a reflective and aspirational time of year, a time when that little voice in the back of your head is likely whispering a perennial promise, something along the lines of ‘new year, new you!’

If you’re resolving to shake up your teaching practices and reignite your passion for learning, look no further than these professional development approaches to help make this coming year your best (teaching) year yet!

If sustainability is close to your heart...

It’s easy to find countless PD courses for maths or behaviour management, but educators wanting to up their eco credentials are often at a loss.

That’s where the groundbreaking Green School comes in. This sustainably built, wall-less school is a beacon of natural beauty and a force for social change. Through community integrated and entrepreneurial learning, the Balinese school’s holistic, student centred approach is already creating future (and present!) eco warriors and leaders, such as the young sisters behind the world renowned Bye Bye Plastic Bags Campaign.

Since 2013, teachers from around the world have flocked to this verdant paradise to participate in the school’s Green Educator Courses. International educators learn with and from Green School teachers as well as local and international experts - leaving with renewed passion, plus a toolbox of innovative teaching strategies and resources to implement in their own teaching. Can you picture yourself in paradise?

If you want to go back to (graduate) school…

Brief PD courses, while inspirational, are often so removed from daily school life that even the most eager teachers struggle to implement the ideas when they return to the reality of their classroom. But what if teachers could gain valuable knowledge, experience and research opportunities in an innovative school already leading the way, where they could put theory into practice and implement real change from the get go?

High Tech High is one of the most well-known school systems in the world and was the first high school to open a graduate school of education within a K12 institution. The graduate school turns teachers into courageous and creative changemakers, and uses project based learning to equip them with the theory and skills to address a genuine need in their home school. See how this could work in your school.

If your learning spaces need a shake up…

Learning spaces play a crucial role in learning. That’s why Autens, a leading Danish education consultancy, created a workshop to transform schools into imaginative, meaningful spaces for 21st century education.

Learning Space Design Labs brings staff together to co-create a new learning environment on the basis of a shared vision for learning. Staff have the freedom to think, play and create together so that the outcome is as innovative, insightful, shared and inspirational as possible. The design process is hands-on and project based, and strangely enough, participants are yet to design a traditional style classroom! What fresh design concept will staff at your school create?

If you’re a leader looking for a fresh perspective…

If all students are to have their needs met in all areas of learning, leaders need to understand the full range of how students experience school. That extends beyond brief classroom visits and teaching observations. In particular, staff need to understand the experience of those students who may be underserved or at the margins of school culture.

Educators and researchers have long known that shadowing can lead to powerful observations and insights that drive meaningful change - this is the beauty of the Shadow a Student Challenge. It’s a fun, illuminating, and supportive journey where school leaders come together to empathize with their students and take new kinds of action at their school based on the valuable insights gained through spending a ‘day in the life’ of a student. And it’s almost guaranteed to be more life changing than sitting through another powerpoint presentation!

If you want to connect with other professionals…

If you teach a STEM subject and you’re based in Europe, we’ve found just the community for you. Scientix promotes and supports a Europe-wide collaboration among STEM teachers, education researchers, policymakers and other STEM education professionals.

Scientix provides online and onsite training activities, as well as workshops and events around the world.  An easy to use online portal allows teachers to keep up to date with the latest development in their fields and provides bountiful opportunities to connect with peers near and far. Check out all of the ways you can get involved - and prepare for your best year yet!