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10 Professional Development Tips for the New Year

Janelle Cox

The new year means it’s time to polish your professional development skills and accomplish new things. It’s a time to try a new teaching strategy, start giving your students choices, or learn a new skill. It’s also a time to be start being mindful, stay positive, and welcome change. As you plan for the new year, take a moment to think about the following professional development tips. These little changes that you try and implement may just be the thing that you need to transform the rest of your year into a successful one.  Here are a few professional development ways to get started and move into the right direction.

Professional Development: Challenge Yourself and Try Something New

Don’t be afraid to take a risk and try something new. Is there a class that you want to take to help you learn a specific new teaching strategy? Take it. Have you always dreamed about changing your classroom so it’s more student-centered but were afraid to try it for fear it wouldn’t work? Do it. Whatever it is that you want to do, challenge yourself and give it try. This is the year of new beginnings, so don’t be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone and try something unexpected.

Stay in the Moment and Be Mindful

Being a teacher means that you’re constantly on high alert, and therefore never really present in any given moment. This year, make it a point to step back and be in the moment. When your students are answering a question or telling a story, don’t just listen to them, really take a moment to hear what they are saying. All too often, we as teachers think about what we’re going to say next while our students are talking. This isn’t being in the moment. Take the time each day to sit someplace quiet and focus your attention and your thoughts and your breath. This can be for two minutes or for ten minutes, whatever works for you. Being mindful is much more than just reducing your stress. It also can improve your attention, boost your memory, make you less reactive, and enhance your self-insight on everything.

Be More Positive

This new year, try and be more positive. Even if you are already a positive person, try and be a little bit more positive. Positive thoughts can have a great impact on not only your work, but your health, and even your entire life. Be a positive role model to your colleagues and your students. The more optimistic energy you bring with you to school, the more positivity you will see around you.

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Welcome Change

Change is inevitable, and instead of always fighting it this new year, try and embrace it. While it may seem scary in the moment, once you get through it, it will all be OK. Change is something that many of us do not like. However, as a teacher, you need to be able to roll with the punches, which means when you have a classroom of 20 students, you’re never going to be able to predict what will happen. With that being said, take the time this year to welcome change -- you’ll be glad you did.

Expand Your Professional Network

Professional development is a huge part of being an educator. This year, try expanding your social network. Join an online teaching group, follow experts on Twitter, take an online class, start a blog, or seek out other professionals to connect with who teach the same subject or grade as you. Take the time to expand your professional development social circle. You never know when you may need something or someone.

Be a Team Player

As a teacher, you must be a team player, because when you are part of a team of teachers, you can achieve so much more. Be someone that is kind, open to criticism, dependable, and someone who can listen to others. Take professional development courses, participate in teacher chats online, or ask your colleague next door to collaborate with you on a lesson. The more you connect and interact with likeminded individuals, the better.

Take Time for Yourself

This is the year that you will take some time for yourself. One of the biggest reasons many teachers get burned out is because they fail to take time for themselves. You can’t be an effective teacher if you are unhealthy and stressed out.  Set aside time each day to something you love, whether it’s reading, exercising, or just chatting on the phone with your friends, do something for you.

Treat All Students Fairly and with Respect

As a teacher it can be easy to lean toward the students who always raises her hand or wants to help out in the class. This year you must remind yourself that not all students learn at the same pace or in the same way. Some students are shy, while others are more outgoing. You have to remember to treat all students fairly and equally and with respect, no matter what.

Be the Role Model You Always Wanted

The great thing about being a teacher is that you have the ability to be the role model that you always wanted as a child. Always remember that people are watching your every move, so make sure that you are representing yourself the way that you want to be represented.

Stay Away From Drama

There is always going to drama when you’re in a school setting, whether it’s from the children or the teachers. Don’t waste your time getting involved in these things. Instead, focus on your students and all that you want to accomplish during the school year.

Don’t be afraid to have a good time. Just because you’re a teacher doesn’t mean that you can’t laugh or joke around with your students or colleagues. Don’t take everything so seriously, and have some fun. When your students see you are having fun, they will too.

What are your professional development tips for the new year? Please share with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educatorsor contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.