Is it possible to be addicted to professional development?

This is not a new question for me to ponder.

But it does come up after especially awesome PD opportunities.

At one point that only happened when I went to conferences or took an especially enlightening grad class or settled in with a particularly empowering book.

Not these days.

There seem to be opportunities everywhere!

Just in the last two weeks, I have been able to interact with hundreds of other teachers on Facebook and Twitter to talk about the ideas in Penny Kittle’s title Book Love. (You can check all of that out on Facebook here.) And then tonight I was able to spend another face-paced hour enjoying #titletalk hosted by Donalyn Miller and Colby Sharp. (Feel free to check out the entire archive site here. Tonight’s archive is available here.)

Between chats and organized book clubs, I find myself sharing links and exchanging ideas on Twitter and Facebook, blog posts and emails.

Why is this so addictive? Perhaps the fact that I get a view into the classrooms of others – and often get to see my own through the mirror of others’ comments and questions. That feedback is so critical to learners of all sorts – even those of us who are learning to be better learners and teachers. This is especially true for us as teachers since we tend to be a group that tends to feel so cut off from our colleagues even in our own building. (Some days I feel like I get to talk to my colleagues from across the country more than I do the ones down the hall…)

I can’t imagine going back to the way it was before. I love feeling this way – excited about heading in to school to spend another day with my students. I’m grateful for all of you who learn with me – near or far. I’m looking forward to another year of learning together with you and my students.

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4 thoughts on “Is it possible to be addicted to professional development?

  1. I feel this addiction sense at times as well. I think it has a lot to do with the more social, informal nature of the interactions, and also the fact that everything is self-directed — who you connect with, the topics you want to pursue are all your choice, as as we know from our students, choice is powerful! Add to that fact that I can sit here in Edmonton, Alberta and communicate with you and other far-flung teachers via this blog, twitter, and the like — the sheer “connection potential” that technology makes possible has a quality of novelty (and thus addiction) in and of itself. I’ve no doubt in my mind that this is the future of PD — that the resources we allocate to PD will shift radically to self-directed networks and projects, and to building wide networks of connection via technology.

    • I love that the world seems so much smaller because of these connections – and how much richer my life is for it. I hope more will recognize the power of this and take the leap. I think the self directed PD makes administrators nervous. It’s not under their control. There isn’t any way of knowing what the quality of that PD is. Still, I’m hoping that this is a shift we see happen.

  2. If “addiction” can be understood as a good thing, then the answer is Yes!

    Some of us work in environments where the on-site professional development is frequently irrelevant, usually boring, and always top-down. We need the kinds of self-directed, social media-based professional development you’re talking about if we’re going to continue to grow.

    Like you, I’m grateful for so many opportunities and deeply appreciate that so many people offer so much. As long as we don’t feel obligated to do every little thing that sounds interesting, we can design the professional development experiences that best fit our interests, needs, and lives.

    And especially grateful that I cross paths so frequently with good people like you and Paul. Thanks!

    • Yes, yes…attempting to do everything that sounds good is the biggest danger of self-directed professional development. And it’s a fantastic way to burn yourself out!

      Your kind words have really made my day. I have learned so much from you and count myself very lucky to know you and count you among my friends and mentors.

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