It's uncommon for us as educators to come to a point in our career where we feel we have reached our point of perfection. This point is where we believe we have mastered it all and we have no room for development. I was recently at that point and found myself scoffing at any Professional Developments or opportunities for growth that came my way. I had become that teacher who would sit in PDs and trainings and roll my eyes because I thought I knew it all. But boy was I wrong!
Because I did not feel like I was growing, I started to feel like I was suffocating in my career. I needed something new to get my hands on. Something that would challenge and push me. To pull myself out of this ditch I felt I was in, I decided to tackle becoming an Apple Teacher. Although I took this on as a “challenge,” I just knew that this task would be easy because I was a millennial who was #appleeverything. I use Apple products all day everyday, so how hard could becoming an Apple Teacher be, right? The day I decided that I wanted to work towards becoming an Apple Teacher, I ran to my campus 1:1 coach/tech guru and told him to send me the information to complete. Sign me on up! I bragged “oh, this will be easy because I’m good with technology. I use Apple products every day.” Once I got the information, I sat down that afternoon--on my conference period--and started my quest to earning my badges (you MUST earn a total of eight to become an Apple Teacher).
I started with the general iPad Starter Guide and quiz. After one try, I passed the quiz! “Oh, this should be easy,” I told myself again. My confidence was at a level 10 as my pride and ego fueled my ambition. Up next...PAGES. I opened the quiz and thought to myself, “who needs to read the Started Guide? I can do this in one shot like I did the iPad quiz.” I breezed through the five questions, gloating on the inside. When I finished the last question, I hit the “submit quiz” button and grinned from ear to ear because I just knew I was seconds away from earning my second badge. My quiz was graded and the screen displayed my grade of 2 out of 5. What?! I just knew that could not be correct, but okay… I’ll just retake the quiz. The second time around, I scored a 3 out of 5 and this continued to happen for the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th attempt. Even after skimming through the Starter Guide, I continued to fail. I was not as good as I thought. Or, was my mind in the wrong place to begin with?
I did not think I needed to grow and because my mind was in the wrong place, my capabilities remained in a stagnant place. See, when we don’t think we can grow, no matter how hard we try to grow, we can’t. To change the place that you are in you must first change the mindset that you are in. After failing numerous of times, I put the pride behind me and admitted that I did not know everything that I thought I knew. I needed to stop, open the Starter Guide and look at how I could grow in areas I thought I had mastered. Are there areas in your career, that you feel you have mastered, that you can still grow in?
Having a growth mindset is necessary, al all times, when in the field of education. There are always areas where we can grow personally and professionally. When we fail to seek out ways to grow in our profession, we limit the growth of our students. When we fail to seek out opportunities after opportunities, we miss out on the chance to provide our students with unlimited opportunities. The true purpose of education is to provide our students with opportunities to experience and learn something new. But, when we refuse to experience and learn things foreign to us then we are robbing our students of what they need to be successful in this ever changing society.
While some may view Professional Developments as a waste of time (some can be), we must go into any and all PD with a growth-mindset. If you feel that you can not benefit from a PD then your mind needs to be focused on how you can help others benefit from that PD. That’s growth! If you feel that you are “professionally developed” enough, then your next course of action is to lead professional developments. By leading school and district PDs, you can help other educators get to the level that you are on in your professional career. In doing so, you will grow as a master teacher on a whole “nother” level.
Alexes M. Terry