By Sabrina Bartels – During a recent training, a teacher from a different building in the district asked how many years I had been working. Just as I was about to reply, she gave me a knowing smile and said, “It must be hard being in your first year! I remember what it was like.” I smiled back at her and responded that I was actually about to enter my third year as a counselor in the district. The complete shock on her face was amusing!
The part about being in my third year of counseling that is not quite as amusing is the fact that I have to begin the process of renewing my license. For some, renewing a license means taking a certain number of class credits. But for me, it means completing my Professional Development Plan (PDP).
What is a PDP? It’s a process I need to complete that showcases my professional growth and that growth impacts my students and their performance in school. It’s quite an intense process, involving three team members from various areas that are responsible for reviewing my PDP goal, documentation of how I am reaching this goal, and any data that is associated with my goal.
While the initial computer work wasn’t too bad, it’s still a little intimidating. Below are some tips if you are like me and just getting started on your first counseling PDP!
- Pick a single goal. The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) AND my director of human resources at work stressed the importance of only picking ONE goal. If you are as Type A as me, it probably feels like you are slacking a little if you only choose one goal. But seriously, it will save you a lot of stress. I promise.
- Pick a goal that focuses around something you are honestly interested in. Let’s be real, you will be doing this PDP for the next couple of years (in my case, the next three). It might as well be something that you are legitimately interested in. I chose mindfulness for the focus of my PDP for multiple reasons. Not only is my district integrating mindfulness into all of the school, but I think it’s a beneficial practice. I have gone to three different trainings on mindfulness, and all of them have been interesting. I’ve found that while I gain information to teach my students, I am also integrating these practices into my own life, which keeps me calmer. This keeps me interested in my topic (as opposed to sitting through trainings on something I am not as interested in.)
- Choose a goal that you can measure. I know this one seems a little obvious, but it’s an important fact to remember! You can come up with all kinds of goals, but if you can’t measure the outcome through some sort of pre/post-test, or another way, it’s not going to be quite as successful.
- Collaborate! My PDP goal is similar to other counselors’ goals in my district, especially since we worked on our SLO project for Educator Effectiveness together. Having people you can collaborate with is essential. When you are able to bounce ideas off each other and attend the same trainings, it will make this entire process easier!
- Always, always, ALWAYS double-check the checklist. When you do your PDP, there is a little checklist under each section you complete. Make sure that you re-read everything before you submit it and that you answered the question on the checklist. You don’t want to hear back from one of your team members that you need to redo a section because you didn’t meet all the criteria.
Good luck, and happy writing!