Stepping Out of Your Professional Development Comfort Zone

Have you ever found yourself reading through a list of professional development opportunities circling the ones that really interest you, only to realize that you are already pretty confident in your ability to implement those skills or topics?

Folks who enjoy music and movement love attending training that teaches about using music and movement in the classroom. Teachers who love nature and science, are naturally drawn to outdoor learning trainings. Providers who enjoy painting and drawing will be the first to sign up for courses that promote open ended art experiences for young children. Naturally, we are drawn to professional development opportunities that align with our personal preferences and interests. Unfortunately, staying in our professional development comfort zone doesn’t fully prepare us for the challenges we will face in the classroom.

It is important to recognize this phenomenon in action and make an intentional effort to pick training classes that don’t necessarily grab our attention. If you find yourself reading a training title that includes the words “sand and water table” but you avoid the use of a sand and water table because you don’t like the mess that comes along with it… you need to sign up for that training. If you see a training description that discusses the integration of technology into classroom activities, but you are not technologically savvy… you need to sign up for that course.

There may be other topics that we do not choose because we feel that we have those skills solidly under our belts. We need to keep in mind that there are new developments and improved strategies that we can learn about by revisiting topics every so often.

To ensure that you are including a wide variety of topics, employ the use of a professional development record or create a tracking tool that will help you plan and document all of the training you complete. Reflect on your current practices, preferences, and aversion. Then create a professional development plan that checks off as many of the topics as possible.

Include general topics such as:

  • ❏Health and safety
  • ❏Working with children with special needs
  • ❏Cultural competency
  • ❏Engaging and communicating with families
  • ❏Child development
    • ➯Physical
    • ➯Social and emotional
    • ➯Cognitive
    • ➯Language and Communication
  • ❏Curriculum
    • ➯Construction and block play
    • ➯Science in the classroom
    • ➯Social studies projects
    • ➯Open ended art
    • ➯Music and movement
    • ➯Dramatic play and storytelling
    • ➯Outdoor learning
  • ❏Teaching practices
    • ➯Small group activities
    • ➯Transitions
    • ➯Conflict resolution

CCEI’s July Newsletter Edition also covers topics on Professional Development for Early Care and Education Professionals with regards to Creating a Reflective Practice you don’t want to miss!