4.2 Professional Development
Candidates plan for professional growth.
“Some may say I’m a dreamer . . . .” In formulating my professional development plan (PDP) as a component of my School Library Administration coursework, I zeroed in on areas of deficiency in my professional expertise as a future school librarian and also on areas for which I have a particular passion. I designed this plan of three overarching goals to be implemented over a three year period; therefore, its goals are quite broad (this is where John Lennon’s serenade comes into play), but the plan also features measurable strategies with itemized steps for achieving those somewhat grandiose goals.
Goal 1: “to embrace those genres I have previously avoided like the plague and infiltrate the world of teen “niche” readers (or Science Fiction, Fantasy, Supernatural, and Graphic Format texts) in order to be better equipped to develop those sections of the collection, to make appropriate book recommendations for this group of readers, and to improve these literary categories’ recognition as literature within the school community.”
I have termed teen readers of these genres “niche readers” because they often do not branch out from their preferred reading domain; they have distinct reading tastes and are constantly on the lookout for for new but similar reads. My rationale in developing this goal was based on my self-admission that traditionally, I am not drawn to these genres in my personal reading habits. As I composed my PDP, I was further forced to admit that even in my graduate coursework, I had tended to avoid reading texts from these four categories other than when absolutely necessary. I realized that in order to best prepare myself to serve a young adult population, I must be more knowledgeable in these areas.
Goal 2: To increase my knowledge of ideas and strategies for incorporating YA literature into the subject area classroom as relates to my personal leadership endeavors.
After completing Literature for Young Adults, I became particularly passionate about finding ways to simplify and make more appealing the incorporation of young adult texts into the curriculum for classroom teachers. I established strategies for developing my base knowledge of integration techniques. I know that in this regard, I can benefit not only from published sources but also directly from the source – from other colleagues who offer experience and/or fresh ideas.
My first strategy for achieving my second goal is “attend a minimum of two professional conference sessions (f2f or online webinar) or take one online graduate course on incorporating YA literature into the curriculum.” My checklist of steps details the following: “Remain active in professional organizations, make note of annual conferences in calendar at beginning of year; check online blogs frequently for additional web opportunities; plan to attend any sessions devoted to YA literature in the curriculum; and explore continuing opportunities focusing on YA literature through county school sytems, YALSA, near-by institutions, and online university programs.”
Goal 3: To critically investigate, select, and master a minimum of three unfamiliar Web 2.0 technologies for use in innovative and practical reading promotion activities. Possible examples include podcasts, movie makers, blogs, Shelfari, Reading Rewards, and Glogster Edu.
For a member of the younger generation, I am somewhat paradoxically a traditional hardcopy kind of gal at heart. While I love utilizing educational technology, these tools do not always come naturally to me, and I live in constant fear of not keeping up with current Web 2.0 trends. There are so many tools; it is overwhelming. I really wanted to become familiar with multiple 2.0 technologies without becoming overwhelmed; therefore, rather than setting a goal of tackling just one, I designed my goal around a specific focus – using Web 2.0 tools to promote reading.
As I am still currently employed in the capacity of an English classroom teacher, there are certain aspects of my PDP that I have not yet had the opportunity to implement. That being said, less than a year and a half after its initial development, I am find my progress in these areas notable as I review the strategies I had outlined for achieving my goals. For goal one, I had set as a benchmark strategy “Read a minimum of seven unfamiliar texts by essential/established core authors in each of the four stipulated genres.” I am pleased to report that, among other titles, I have since read Maus (regarded now as a classic graphic format text) and am also currently teaching the book in my Multicultural Literature classes.
Even beyond my expectation of visiting blogs and attending three professional conference sessions on Web 2.0 tools, I have had the incredible learning experience of taking the graduate course, Learning Technologies (Spring 2011). As a part of that coursework, I had the opportunity to use 2.0 technologies such as Wordpress, GoodReads, Diigo, Screencast-o-Matic, Voicethread, Twitter, and Google Forms. In the same semester, I also gained grappled successfully with Glogster and Prezi through the course Action Research for School Libraries. In Action Research, I made the incorporation of young adult outside reading texts (Goal 3) the focus for my entire project. I thereby fulfilled the strategy, “Read professional articles and books that investigate the place of Young Adult Literature in the classroom” by completing my Action Research Literature Review.
I look forward to continuing to chip away at these professional development goals. I have made arrangements to attend both days of this year’s MASL conference. One session on my must-attend list is “Incorporating Science Fiction into the Science Classroom.” That’s what I call killing two birds with one stone (Goals 1 and 2).