While we spend our waking hours at schools surrounded by people, as educators we may sometimes feel isolated and lonely in different ways. We may work with exemplary professionals, but we may not always have colleagues who share our personal educational philosophies, specific interests within our profession, or even our faith in Christ. When we attend professional development conferences, this may be an opportunity to connect with other educators outside of our immediate school community regarding philosophy, pedagogy, and faith. Throughout my career, I have found these experiences at conferences to be life-giving and an important opportunity to widen my perspective and professional network.
While conferences can be excellent opportunities for professional growth, they are not always a realistic option for all educators due to limited funding, limited time, or required preparation. If attending conferences is not an option, how can educators embed professional development into their everyday lives?
Early in my career, I decided to weave professional development into my daily routine. I taught at an amazing Christian school with like-minded educators who shared my educational philosophies and faith background. However, as a new teacher, I felt like I constantly needed to know more about the profession. As the novice teacher, my knowledge base paled in comparison to that of my veteran colleagues. While I was able to attend one professional conference annually, I knew I needed frequent opportunities to grow as an educator. To do this, I turned to my computer. I was shocked to find so many informal professional learning communities online. Three resources that have allowed me to grow professionally on a regular basis include Facebook, Instagram, and podcasts. These platforms have been my ongoing sources of professional development. I use these tools to stay current, informed, and connected in the field.
The Cult of Pedagogy. Podcast, www .cultofpedagogy.com/pod.
Epstein, Daniel. “Parker Palmer.” Portraits in Faith, April, 9 2015, portraitsinfaith.org/parker-palmer.
Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics, Democracy and Civic Courage. Rowman & Littlefield, 2001.
—. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Penguin, 2017.
Elizabeth Yomantas is an assistant professor of teaching and the director of clinical practice at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. Before beginning her work in higher education, she was a middle school English teacher. Elizabeth’s research interests include: teacher education, indigenous Fijian education, and culturally responsive curricula.