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Reading lists and intentional personal professional development

I have a confession to make. I failed. And it’s not the first time. Though there is a silver lining – I didn’t fail as bad as I’ve failed in the past.

Back in May, I listed eight books that I planned to read over the summer. Five work related and three, you know . . . just for fun. And just like every summer I’ve created a reading list, I failed to finish the list. But I came close. I went seven for eight.

The secret? Go tech naked for five days and knock out four books one right after the other. In addition to the summer reading list, there was also a brief Civil War kick in early summer related to the 150th Gettysburg anniversary.

And of course, there’s always the annual Wiebe Labor Day bookapolloza.

books thai text

This year’s take.

For the last six or seven years, over the Labor Day weekend, my family and I travel to some exotic city (like Kansas City or Wichita), eat the same sort of food all weekend, and visit as many bookstores as we can. And, of course, we always name the weekend. Among other things. we’ve had Burgers and Books, BBQ and Books, Bolognese and Books.

This year? We wanted to focus on Asian food but couldn’t come up with a “B” word that went with “Books.”

We ended up with Thai and Texts.

Yeah. Not near as catchy. But still a good weekend. Great food. Great conversation. And four bookstores.

Nice story, Glenn. Thanks for sharing. But what’s the point?

The point is that as parents we’ve tried to be very intentional about creating an atmosphere in our house where reading and learning and discussing what we’re reading and asking questions about stuff is normal. That it’s expected. That it’s not okay to stay who you were two years ago.

The point is that sometimes it’s easy to not be as intentional about our own professional development. Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the day to day stuff that has to get done. I understand that.

But I also understand how important it is to continue to learn new things, to try new strategies, to develop some sort of personal professional development program. And I’m not talking about your local PDC committee stuff that you go through to keep your teaching license current.

I’m talking about intentional personal PD.

And the cool thing is that your intentional PD can look like however you want it to look. You can create a Personal Learning Network using social media using hashtags, Twitter or Ning. You can join great organizations like the National Council for the Social Studies, the National Council for History Education, geography or econ groups, maybe a government organization. All of them send out journals, provide resources and lesson plans, and support groups of learners.

(There are often state versions of these national groups that are also useful. Two in Kansas are the KCSS and the KCHE. Both awesome groups working to improve instruction in the state. And, by the way, are hosting an awesome one-day social studies conference on November 11th that you need to be at.)

You might look into the huge variety of free online PD options. Web sites like Edudemic and TeachThought have some awesome stuff.

Maybe you create a study group within your department and do a book study. Maybe you just read books by yourself and apply what you’ve learned. Your intentional PD might be as simple as doing a Google search now and again for best practices in your content area.

But you need to have a plan. Sit down sometime this weekend and brainstorm questions you need answered. Design a program, with deadlines and finish dates, that helps you answer your questions. And don’t be afraid to ask others about their plans, where they find their PD. Heck . . . you can email me anytime or leave a question in the comments.

Because it’s not okay anymore to just get by. We ask our kids to learn new stuff every day, to do homework, to get smarter. We should be willing to do the same.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Bok choy and books?

    September 10, 2013
    • glennw #

      Man. We didn’t think of that one!

      Where were you a couple of weeks ago? We needed you in the group!


      September 11, 2013

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