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As an art teacher, you undoubtedly want new teaching tools and new ideas for your classroom. You want new learning experiences for yourself and your students. Where is the best place to find those things? Art-specific professional development, of course.
Unfortunately, administrators don’t always share your excitement for PD outside of what your school offers. That’s difficult if you have your eye on a specific course or a conference, especially if those opportunities will help you meet some of your own teaching goals.
But even if the decision-making is out of your hands, there are still ways to help things go your way.
Administrators want to know that the professional development they are providing for you is worthwhile. If you can show them the work you’ve created in a course, or lessons you have developed from your learning, they will be more likely to say yes to future learning. A process board, like the one seen above by course participant, Heidi Kniseley, is a great way to help your administrators visualize your learning.
It can be difficult to effectively communicate why you want to attend a conference, or why you need to take a course. But if you can clearly and succinctly show the benefits–a list of ways a conference can benefit you, for example–your administrator will be more receptive to your plans and more willing to give you the go-ahead.
Your school will, of course, have some kind of directive to be implemented or a school-wide goal they are working toward. Maybe it has to do with literacy, or math, or even student behavior. No matter the case, there is likely a connection to be made with art. The more you can tie the investment in your learning into the wider goals of the school, the easier it will be for your administrator to say yes.
Along with the idea of effectively communicating your reasons for wanting to go, you should also communicate what you will do with your newfound knowledge. Create an action plan you can share with your administrator. Will you bring new lessons to your students? Will you try some new assessments? Can you implement more effective classroom management strategies? Have a clear idea of your takeaways, and make sure they make it back into your classroom.
Your administrator may love the idea of you participating in more PD. But if their approval is contingent on them finding those opportunities for you, it may be a nonstarter. So, do the research and find some options for them. And don’t just show them what’s out there–tell them why it will be good for you and your students. It isn’t just about the PD–it is what you gain from the PD!
As a teacher, and as a professional, you want to improve what you do in your classroom. When you put all of these ideas in this list together, you will have a lot of opportunities made available to you. Whether it is an online conference, a graduate course, or ongoing on-demand PD, there are plenty of ways for you to continue your growth.
What are your favorite types of PD opportunities?
Do you have any tips for communicating with your administrators about PD?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors from across the nation and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University or any of its academic offerings.