Daily Professional Development

I think it’s a great challenge: how do I balance doing my work on a daily basis and growing in my work on a daily basis. This is the struggle of professional development.

For some, we go to an annual or regional conference once a year, attend sessions, take notes – then come back and say “I’m going to implement change” – only to find out that the system we work in is not actually ready for any change to occur. Or, perhaps that example that was shared at the conference actually will not work well at my own campus.

I try to hit some degree of professional development daily. It does not always work – I need to be honest there. But, here are some ways I get some professional development daily:

– Twitter – While I am not super active, I am around enough to follow what is out there and to re-tweet from time to time. I’ve heard the phrase “lurking is learning” – that’s what I stick with most days.

– Reading – I read more books and articles than blogs these days. But, from time to time, there’s a blog that drops on my lap that I enjoy reading.

– Conversations! This is huge for me – two types of conversations.

  • First with those at my current institution and in my department at my own level- actual face to face conversations. Typically this might start as a venting moment or a “oh my, did you hear x” conversation. Then it quickly leads to a “huh, I would have done it this way” type conversation. That’s how I learn. Getting critical (and honest) feedback from those around me.
  • The other type of conversations that I enjoy are those with professional colleagues in other departments or at other institutions. This is a great way for me to gain an outside perspective or a fresh insight into any questions or struggles that I have.

– Reflecting – as an introvert, this is how I learn the best. I take time to think critically about what I do, what I’ve seen, what is occurring around me, and I think about it. Sometimes these thoughts result in blog posts, sometimes they result in good conversations with those that I supervise or co-workers, and sometimes I just say “come on Brian, you can do better!” I think this is what runners use running time to do. I don’t run that much, but when I do I am busy listening to a podcast, not reflectively thinking.

– LISTSERVs—I’ve managed to get myself onto about four different LISTSERVs. Some of them I don’t think I should be on- but some I totally should be on. While I’m not usually the “vocal LISTSERV” participant, I am always reading and often learning a lot from them!

– Facebook group – A few weeks back I was invited to join the ResLifePros Facebook group. Currently there are over 500 members of this group! Wow, that’s a lot of people with (potentially) great ideas! I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the various tools out there. https://www.facebook.com/groups/ResLifePros/

So, with these ideas on ways I get professional development daily – what are some tactics you use? How do you grow as a professional?

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2 responses to “Daily Professional Development

  1. I whole-heartedly agree with the types of PD opportunities you’ve described. I use my daily interactions to improve my practice all the time. Coffee meetings with colleagues are a treat for me, but they are also where I find some of the most practical advice for handling situations. I learn daily through twitter– through the conversations and through lurking. But the piece of your article that stood out to me the most is the reflection piece. I need to make more time to do that on an individual basis. I do a lot of processing through conversation and sharing, but I think it’d be more meaningful for me if I took some time to focus my thoughts first.

    To share specifics: I love my involvement with #SAchat on Thursdays at 1pm, and I am looking forward to participating in #SAReads as well!

  2. I love reflection too – I just prefer to do it externally, in groups, loudly. 🙂 I’m also learning to stop trying to drink through the fire hose of the sheer volume of information and ideas available to pick out a couple of key points that resonate deeply with me and then look for a small way to act on them. Even if it means something as relatively simple as changing the way I write about an upcoming event for students or the way I organize my schedule, I love seeing a tangible, small change in my work and myself as a result of what I’m learning. Quality over quantity all the way – I know I can do it all, just not all at the same time. 🙂

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