Up until December I had spent the past four years at Marquette University completing two Masters Programs in the department of education. While I could not wait to be done, I already feel a void. It’s not that I don’t have enough to keep me busy (being a principal is a non-stop job). I actually feel the void of not having a set time that I am “forced” to go and meet with colleagues to learn and develop.
While in graduate school, I longed for the days I could stay late in my office to finish a project or to have the weekends free from assigned reading/writing assignments. Yet it hit me almost instantly after graduation; I was in danger of being in a place of stagnation. While I have wonderful colleagues to learn from, it is easy to let the day to day grind convince us we don’t have time to read literature, meet for coffee and discuss best practices, attend seminars (on our own time), engage in active research or reflective writing.
What I would propose to all of my colleagues in education, is that we continually seek out people in similar roles to our own and that we initiate our own professional development. For those of us who are in or have recently finished a program at Marquette, we have an inherent advantage. We have fresh relationships to maintain and utilize for our own growth.
Some of my best memories from graduate school involved a beverage, a slice of pizza and animated conversations about our readings or class discussions. Why does that have to change once we gain the diploma or license? Yes, we all started our various programs for that all important “piece of paper,” yet I tend to think that the power of places like Marquette is the ability for us to build strong professional and academic bonds with people. In fact, Marquette should be proud, my particular principal cohort intends to meet monthly and engage in a book study, sharing in good high quality professional dialogue. In other words, we plan to continue developing…. I hope you will all do the same… nothing will have a greater impact on the students in this community then professionals who thirst for their own development.