Recent job action in Ontario has meant that many teachers in the province will only participate in self-directed professional development. For teachers struggling with what to do on these self-directed professional development days here are some options.
- Learn a New Skill
Have you ever said to yourself "I wish I had time to learn how to..."? Use your professional development time to explore some of these avenues. Perhaps you want to learn how to use the photocopier (more effectively), a data projector, a document camera or a video camera. Or maybe you want to use images and videos in your lessons, learn to sketch (so that you can make better diagrams) or to program. Take some time to dive in and start learning.
- Redesign Your Learning Space
Perhaps you're not happy with the way your classroom is laid out. Why not take some time to look at the classroom from a student's perspective? How can the decor be improved? Can the seating be arranged in a better way? Is there anything that can be done to enhance the learning opportunities for your students?
- Learn How to Use a Piece of Software
There is a ton of software out there that simplifies our lives. The trouble is that it's not helpful if we don't know how to use it. Why not spend some time learning how to use a spreadsheet; edit photos, math equations, chemical equations; or to work collaboratively using tools like Google Drive or Evernote. The possibilities seem endless.
- 'Do' Your Subject
If you teach math, find some interesting problems to work on. If you teach history why not visit a local museum or historical site to learn about the history in your area, which you can then share with your students. If you teach science do an experiment. Put yourself in a student's position and do some learning in your subject area.
- Read an Article
Find a current article dealing with your subject area (or any other area for that matter). This allows you to keep up to date and you may find something that piques your curiosity and leads to further research along the same lines. Share your findings with your students. They will be excited to hear that you are learning along with them.
- Collaborate With Others
Find a teacher or group of teachers to work with at your school (or within your district). Teachers may be in the same department if you want to focus on developing project ideas, assessment ideas, etc. Perhaps more interesting would be to work with teachers from other departments to work on skills that are transferable or to help each other see things from a new perspective.
- Read Blogs
Spend some time finding education related blogs that are of interest to you. There are literally thousands of them out there. Read, comment and share the blogs that you find. Subscribe to the blogs and organize them in a feed reader such as Google Reader. If you're feeling ambitious, why not start your own blog.
- Develop Your Professional Learning Network
Spend some time on your social network of choice (Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, etc.) making connections to other educators, industry professionals, former students or anyone else that may be relevant to your teaching. Learn from them and contribute to the conversation.
- Attend a Virtual Conference
Many organizations now stream portions of their conferences or conferences in their entirety. Spend some time as a participant in one of these conferences. If you can't find a conference that is happening when you want to participate you can often find recordings of past conferences. There is so much good material out there.
Play around with things. Find out how things work. Take something apart. Build something. You will learn a lot and in the process you may be able to make something very useful for yourself or your class.
What will you be doing with your self-directed professional development time?