A New Look at Professional Development

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One of my focuses in 2020 is to commit to professional development time.

I started 2019 with a strong professional development goal, but it soon dropped off and made way for, well, work. After a workshop I attended a few months ago, I realized that I was doing myself a disservice by not maintaining that professional development time. Here is my plan to attack this gap in my own growth as an instructional designer.

Put it On the Calendar

First, I am going to explicitly schedule time for myself, and put it on the calendar, repeating, throughout the year. If I don’t do this, it’s just too easy to skip, or have something else take its place.

My initial goal was to spend a small amount of time daily, related to professional development. After thinking more about it, I believe my time would be better served if I commit 1 hour a week to growing a skill of some sort. This way, I am less tempted to skip, and I have more time to focus and dig into deeper content.

I’ve recently started tracking where I spend my time while working. Looking at the past month, I believe 1 hour a week is more than doable.

Engage with other Instructional Designers

I am fortunate enough to work with 3 other incredible, talented, and brilliant instructional designers. Not only do I view my teammates as the pinnacle of professionalism – but each one of us has different areas of strength and expertise.

One of my teammates has incredible systems knowledge, team management skills, and very (very!) high aspirations. Another of my teammates has great experience in the industry, and an unwavering commitment to creating and following effective processes. Yet another teammate has an incredible eye for design, and is always on the cutting edge of new trends and tactics when it comes to e-learning.

Not only can we learn together, but I believe we can learn from one another. This, I think, is one of the greatest strengths that my current company can offer all of us.

My Plan

My plan is to block off two different times on my calendar each week. One time block will occur on the second and fourth weeks of each month. This time block will be a meeting time with my teammates. The idea is that we’ll meet together, and share best practices and resources around a single, narrow topic under the umbrella of Instructional Design. The other time block will occur on the first and third weeks of every month. This is individual research time, devoted to the topic we will be discussing as a team in the following week.

I sent an email to my teammates earlier this week, suggesting this format. It was met with energy and optimism – and I would expect nothing less from my teammates. But I don’t want this time to become a worthless meeting – I want to make sure that this time is valuable to all of us.

So I’m still figuring out exactly how our meeting will run. Right now, I’m leaning towards giving everyone 15 minutes to share resources, ask questions, lead a discussion, etc. That way, each one of us can create, or find, the value they want from this professional development session.

Share Your Knowledge

Have you done something similar to this in the past? I would love to hear your experiences with collaborative professional development. Share what you’ve done, so we can learn more together.

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