Teachers tend to be lifelong learners by nature, but developing a professional growth plan can create a clear path to intentional learning and success.

Teaching is a journey, and a professional growth plan can serve as a map for educators as they grow and learn within their profession. This plan is an outline of not only the goals set, but how to achieve those career goals using professional strengths and in spite of personal weaknesses. The professional development plan is also crucial to keep educators on track when teaching starts to become stressful and day-to-day struggles take priority over career aspirations.

Professional growth plans typically consist of three parts, although different schools may use slightly different formats. First, educators identify their goals. The time frame can vary, with some goals lasting an entire school year and others achievable within a semester or less. Next, teachers document their progress and provide evidence of progress toward their goals. Finally, an assessment section allows for self- or peer-assessment options. Some schools even elect to have administrators review teachers’ progress against their professional growth plans as part of their evaluation systems.

It can be hard to narrow your goals and focus on something measurable. Answer some simple questions to start developing your own professional growth plan for the upcoming school year.

Where Are You Now?

professional growth planWhether a teacher with many years of experience or one who has just landed a teaching job, consider your current position and how you have progressed over the past few years. Are you where you want to be? Have you made progress toward your goals and do you think you are behind or ahead of schedule? The professional growth plan will assist you in determining what you are doing to progress toward your goals, and what needs improvement. Just take some time to reflect as well as plan forward.

What Are Your Goals?

Is this the year you are going to use more technology in your classroom? Set a goal to do so in your professional growth plan, and use available resources to plan how to increase technology use by students in the new school year. You can meet that goal through lesson planning, collaboration with your IT department, and researching online tools available. Monitor your success by getting student feedback and measuring student progress.

professional growth planYou probably have teachers who are friends, but reaching out to a new teacher in your district as a mentor or seeking out another teacher to collaborate with can be a good goal for your professional growth plan. Take an online teacher mentor course, make sure you complete it, and measure your success by taking stock of your relationships with your co-workers.

Your professional growth plan doesn’t have to be so serious that it can’t include a little fun. Set a goal to introduce excitement into your classroom this year. If you were the student, what would you enjoy doing? This goal for your professional growth plan can be met by outlining new and engaging activities and experiments into your lesson plans. Plan outdoor nature walks, hands-on science experiments, and turn lesson reviews into Jeopardy! Give your students the ability to choose from several different options of learning. Measure the success of this goal through your students’ growth not only in learning, but in confidence and motivation.

Other ideas could include improving parental communication, engaging with the community, integrating more writing opportunities, or trying new types of assessments. Whatever your goal, make sure it is realistic, measurable, and focused.

Do It Now

professional growth planOnce you have established your goals in your professional growth plan, start work to reach them. Review the plan often, keep your goals in mind, and record your progress. Make notes of obstacles, successes, and ideas for the future. Pursue professional development opportunities, read professional journals related to your goal, and make time for daily reflection on your progress. If your professional growth plan needs some revision, make changes to adapt to the situation. When you reach the goals set in your professional growth plan, begin a new one. Your career will continue to progress and your goals will change. Keep your plan current.

All teachers planned to graduate from high school, go to college, complete student teaching, and obtain a teaching position. Professional growth does not stop there—write a professional growth plan and map out a course for your career development.

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