The Learning Continues…Professional Development

It seems pretty appropriate that our last week’s readings all have to do with continuing education and development. Depending upon the context, the term “professional development” can either seem exciting or like a chore. Usually, it’s something that excites me (I love to learn in general), but when it’s some sort of mandatory corporate talk or video, that’s when I start to feel itchy. I think that having some power and autonomy over what one learns when can be far better for encouraging employees to be life-long learners in regards to job skills.

All three of the articles we read involved giving teacher-learners/librarian-learners ways to pursue professional development. However, the delivery methods for this learning were a little bit different from a standard seminar or lecture — instead, the options were much more self-directed, either in pace, content or both. In “When Teachers Drive Their Learning” from Educational Leadership, Joseph Semadeni emphasizes that:

Choice is a powerful motivator in adult learning. Offering teachers a menu of alternatives for what they will learn is highly motivating.

I certainly agree with that line of thinking. In my own life, the jobs where I had the most ability to choose topics, times and ways of learning that fit me best were often far more satisfying than jobs that offered a specific, prescribed track of sessions. In some ways, I’m guessing that those environments willing to give their employees more autonomy and choice in their own learning (and encouraging real learning in the first place) probably gave me/other employees more autonomy in general.

I’m glad to be considering and reflecting on this topic as I consider my own next professional steps. I received a good tip from a fellow soon-to-be-grad of SI — although pay rates are not always negotiable, professional development resources sometimes are. I value my ability to continue learning and growing highly, and so I’ll be keeping that in mind as a priority as I weigh the pros and cons of various organizations and institutions.


3 thoughts on “The Learning Continues…Professional Development

  1. I agree with you – self-directed development (whatever part you get to “self-direct”) is so much more engaging. That’s what I loved about all of these programs; as the articles said, they “put the learners in control” (or in a leadership position even!). I’ve been to some mandatory corporate training sessions myself, which were pretty much all-day sessions going over things that I already had learned in some other fashion. And yet, despite knowing a lot of these things myself, I was never offered/given any sort of greater responsibility than the people who had no idea what we were talking about. So, what did I do? I shut down, paid enough attention to get through the day, and waited until we got out at 5pm and could go socialize. Doesn’t sound like a recipe for learning anything if you ask me.

  2. “Choice is a powerful motivator in adult learning.” — Cannot agree more. It is most ideal that professional development would let professionals take control and do it at their own pace. The modern technology has made self-paced professional development much more easier to realize. In my profession, each licensed lawyer must complete a minimum amount of continued education classes per year — however, you can do it wherever you are at your own pace and choose whatever classes you are interested in.

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