Six Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Professional Development This Summer

That’s right, summer is right around the corner. And while it’s a time to unwind and recharge for some, it’s also an excellent opportunity to get in professional development hours to help you learn and grow as an educator. 

I’m Leslie Coleman, the education director for ChildCare Education Institute (CCEI), the nation’s leading online professional development provider for early childhood education (ECE) professionals. Throughout my 25+ year career, I’ve been responsible for creating professional development curriculum that’s been taken by thousands of educators, like yourself, across the country. 

There are a number of things you can do to make the most out of your professional development. After all, you’re investing your most precious resource — time — so why not do everything you can to maximize your experience. 

Below are six ways to get the most out of your professional development this summer.

1. Write Down Your Goals

Are you taking a course to meet a job requirement, or is there a subject you’ve always wanted to learn more about, or maybe you just want to be the best teacher you can be? 

Regardless of your reason for tackling professional development, writing down your goals is a great idea. 

When you write down your goals and can see them, they become tangible and you’re more likely to succeed. And don’t just list them, but make sure you’re describing your goals in detail — the more vivid the picture you paint, the higher likelihood of success. 

2. Understand How You Learn

As educators, we’re constantly thinking about the different ways our students learn and adjusting our teaching methods to ensure we’re reaching all our kiddos. 

However, when was the last time you stopped to think about how YOU learn? Whatever your style is, make sure you find training that fits your learning approach.

3. Build a Community

You can certainly undertake professional development by yourself, but see if you have colleagues who might be interested in the same topics as you and recruit them to sign up too. 

Having a community and support network has numerous benefits, including the encouragement they offer and a more promising overall experience. Additionally, they can share valuable insight into their own experiences and provide other points of view you might not have considered. Finally, it will help you stay accountable to finishing what you started. 

4. Avoid Disruption and Be Present

While online professional development offers a multitude of benefits, such as flexibility when and where you take your courses, you want to make sure you’re intentional about it. 

It might be nice to relax on your couch while studying, but will you be bombarded with constant interruptions? Pets, your kids, spouses and more might be vying for your attention. Also, if you’re completing an online course in your home, make sure your focus remains on what you’re doing. It’s easy to become preoccupied with that Netflix show playing in the background or by scrolling on your smartphone. Whatever the case may be, treat it like you would an in-person training.  Find quiet space where there will be minimal distractions so you can focus solely on the material you’re learning. 

5. Constantly Ask Yourself

As you cover material, constantly ask yourself, “How can I incorporate this into my teaching?” and think about your previous experiences related to the topic at hand. 

Since it’s summertime and you might not be in class, you want to think of different scenarios where you can put into practice what you’re learning so you’re ready to implement the various strategies and knowledge into your teaching when the moment arises.

6. Celebrate Your Achievements 

Gold stars for a job well done aren’t just for your students. 

Recognizing accomplishments is a powerful motivator and reinforces why you set out on your goal to begin with. Also, when you acknowledge your achievements, you become more confident. 

Once you successfully complete a training, reward yourself in some small way such as taking an afternoon for yourself or enjoying a nice long bath with a good book. It doesn’t have to be much, just something where you acknowledge the reason you’re pampering yourself. 

Now that you’re armed with these strategies for success, consider exploring CCEI’s extensive catalog of 150+ professional development courses. And in addition to our turnkey curriculum products, new CCEI customers receive a Discount School Supply gift certificate of equal value when you purchase an individual annual training subscription. To learn more about this great offer, click HERE

What are you waiting for, get started today!  

Leslie Coleman has over 25 years of experience in the early childhood education (ECE) field. She has held positions ranging from preschool teacher to professional development consultant for ECE professionals. Her training content is used to help educators reflect on and make enhancements to their interactions with children and families.

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