Professional Growth Plan
The following professional growth plan is designed to facilitate my career development. I am currently an educator but in the future, I am planning to work as a Principal in the Higher Education Sector. I have significant teaching experience; particularly I have been educating children of 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades for about fifteen years. In addition, I have been demonstrating good leadership and organizational skills serving on different committees at my school, including the School Improvement Plan committee, Student Counsel Advisory (SCA), Math, Parental Involvement, and Science Fair Committee. The professional plan will consist of three major components. The first component is devoted to the identification of my individual needs. This part is necessary for understanding what knowledge and skills should be developed and gained for effective professional growth. The second part focuses on discussing various formal and informal activities that are performed to satisfy the identified needs. The third part contains the information about the sources of getting support in case any issues appear concerning the realization of the plan. The final part contains the evaluation plan for determining the effectiveness of the developed professional growth plan.
Identification of Individual Needs
To identify individual need, it is necessary to analyze the responsibilities of the Principal. He/she manages educational institutions, which can include many aspects. First, the Principal is responsible for hiring new employees and working with current staff by conducting regular evaluation to help them to expand their knowledge and develop new skills. The Principal observes teaching techniques, assesses learning materials, evaluates instructional goals and visits classes (Career Overview, n.d.). To complete these tasks, the Principal needs to know proper teaching requirements and have leadership, communication and organizational skills. As I have 15-year teaching experience, I do not have to develop my knowledge of teaching practices. However, I do not have previous experience of monitoring the work of others as a leader. Besides, I do not have enough knowledge about HR practices.
Apart from that, the Principal organizes staff meetings to discuss the questions concerning procedures, particularly they get together to design curriculum that responds to high standards, develop mission statements and identify short-term and long-term objectives (Career Overview, n.d.). This requires planning skills. As a teacher, I have also designed curriculum and set objectives, so I believe that I do not need to develop this skill. Besides, the Principal’s evaluations affect teacher’s salaries, so he should be objective while making these assessments and apply distinct objective guidelines. I am able to do this because I have been evaluating my students for many years, so I have learnt to be objective. Besides, the Principal organizes forums to introduce effective communication between parents, pupils, other staff and representatives of various local organizations, so I guess my experience of serving on committees within the education institution will help me to carry the following responsibilities. Apart from that, the Principal can be responsible for financial aspects of the institution, particularly preparing budgets and reports as well as well requisition of supplies (Career Overview, n.d.). I do not have experience of doing this, so I need to develop my knowledge in this area.
However, self-observations are not enough for effective identification of individual needs. It is also necessary to use observations and collaborative reflection conducted by colleagues or other Principals. Supervisors usually use a standard observation checklist or form while evaluating a lesson or other activities conducted by the person under evaluation. After the observation, the supervisor and educator meet to analyze strengths and weaknesses of the activity as well as ways of improvement. The lesson observation can include such aspects as interaction between the students and the teacher, students’ participation, application of teaching materials and techniques. Observation of activities necessary for the Principal’s work may include checking my organizational skills during serving on committees or certain forums. For example, the supervisor can determine whether all the participants came to the event and whether all the goals were achieved. In the case of collaborative model of supervision, the observer discusses with the educator the areas in which he would like to get reflection. Collaborative discussions encourage teachers to think critically and treat teaching as the decision-making process (Vasquez & Reppen, 2007).
Another effective way of observations is walk-through. The teacher and the administration establish their objectives and frequency.
Therefore, the evaluation is conducted in the atmosphere of openness and closeness. Moreover, such observation is felt more as the support of administration rather than the performance assessment (David, 2008). Apart from that, it is effective to apply such alternative ways of determining individual needs as “unnoticeable observation”, teaching portfolios, peer observation, and students’ performance and feedback.
For example, teaching portfolios are applied to evaluate the teacher’s competence, knowledge and ability to educate students as well as to perform teacher’s monitoring and support. According to the studies of one of the schools, this method is more preferred by teachers and administrations than single classroom observation (Attinello, Lare, & Waters, 2006). Supervisors may motivate teachers to supply these portfolios with evaluations, student works, samples of lesson plans and journal articles. Powell (1999) and Quirke (1996) also offer alternative method of collaboration observation, which is called “unseen observation”. It involves teachers’ reflection before and after a lesson. Despite the absence of supervisor’s observation, self-reflection of teachers towards their instructing is discussed with supervisor after the lesson. Less structured way of self-observing is the reflection on the teaching practice through journal articles and self-evaluations (Bailey, 2006).
To identify my individual needs, I asked my colleagues for class observation. They proved my own observations that I apply teaching techniques and materials effectively, encourage students to participate in classroom activities and achieve learning objectives. To evaluate my knowledge of HR practices, I performed job interviews in the presence of a school administrator, who gave me positive feedback. He only offered to improve the list of questions. In addition, I had regular walk-through observations, which were the most effective because I could stop worrying and start demonstrating my real skills and knowledge. The administration gave positive feedback to my lessons after this evaluation, particularly supervisors mentioned my ability to set a contact with all students and motivate everybody to work actively during a lesson. This proves my excellent communication skills. It should help me in hiring processes and managing the staff. On the other hand, the Principal in the Higher Education sector usually works with adults whereas I give lessons to children. These are completely different age groups with their own characteristics, so I will have to pay attention to developing communication skills for interacting with people over 18 years old.
Finally, I asked for collaborative reflection for checking my organization skills while serving on committees and forums with parents. I got excellent evaluations for this aspect. In addition, I applied such alternative methods as “unseen observation”, creating teaching portfolios and reflection on practice through journal issues and self-assessments. The findings of “unseen observation” and self-assessments were described above. As for using journals, I do this all the time, so most of my reflections are based on the knowledge received from them. I have also created a teaching portfolio that demonstrates that I am quite good at planning, which is so necessary for the Principle.
To sum up, I need to develop my knowledge about HR practices and managing financial resources, and improve leadership, planning and communication skills.
Formal and Informal Activities for Professional Growth
People can achieve professional growth by applying formal and informal activities. Formal activities include getting qualifications that can be proved by diplomas or certificates. I believe that I do not need formal activities for professional growth. Instead, I would use informal activities. In particular, I would attend conferences, workshops and courses to expand my knowledge about hiring processes, staff management and the rules of preparing financial reports and preparing budget. Besides, I may learn much information from educational videos (see Table 1).
Action Plan Activities
Sources of Support
If formal and informal monitoring demonstrate the absence of or slow progress, the school leader or other school supervisor needs to provide help with determining obstacles that do not allow to complete the plan. The reasons for absence of sustainable progress can be different; particularly they can be connected with the topic or the design of the plan or with the process of its execution. The school leader should first determine if the person made all the efforts to complete the plan successfully and only after that start helping. The lack of effort may mean fear of making a mistake. Therefore, if the school leader detects this issue, he needs to demonstrate more involvement into the process to help the person to fight hesitation. If the growth plan is not on schedule, the school leader has to determine whether it is caused by procrastination or some other factors. Putting the plan off until the next day is a common situation if the person has many job responsibilities. However, professional growth plans cannon be performed at the last minute because they require daily work. The responsibility of the school leader is to ensure that the person understands the process and deadline for all the steps. The documentation can also evoke problems because the participant can start keeping records of all details, so the task of the school leader is to demonstrate what information should be presented in reports. Finally, the plan itself can cause the lack of progress. For example, the list of actions may not respond to the real needs. For example, some aspects could have too much or too little attention. In fact, the Action plan activities and timelines for their executing are the most problematic parts of professional growth plan. Therefore, the school leader needs to support the participant while defining this component (Peine, 2007).
As for my growth plan, I think that there will be problems with schedule because I have many classes at school. In addition, I actively serve on various committees within the institution, so I will not have enough time to perform all the activities. Another difficulty is that when I face this kind of assignments, I am usually afraid of failure, so I will probably take less efforts than necessary. Besides, I am not sure whether Action plan activities correspond to my needs completely. For example, I probably have not included all the required skills for the Principal.
Unfortunately, I do not have practical experience of working on this position, so I cannot predict the kind of knowledge I should obtain and the list of skills I have to learn. Moreover, I have little understanding of the activities duration. My Action plan is mainly based on my own observations and recommendations of the colleagues. Nevertheless, I believe that I will be able to deal with all the challenges because I have full support from the side of my school leader.
The evaluation plan for determining the effectiveness of the professional growth plan should include checking the progress during the year.
Otherwise, it will be difficult to check whether obtained knowledge and skills will stay in my head for a long time. I offer to make review twice: six months after I start executing the plan and over a year. Both reviews should be accompanied by detailed instruction for further improvements. Over the year, recommendations for further growth should be also suggested (see Table 2). If there is no progress, changes to Action plan activities and timeline should be made.
In conclusion, the developed professional plan contains the directions for identifying individual needs, Action plan activities with timeline, the sources of getting support in case of challenges, and evaluation plan for determining the efficiency of the offered plan. As I am planning to change the job position in the future, the plan does not seem common for an educator. However, it is an obligatory measure because the Principal needs to have broader knowledge and skills than a teacher. The plan will probably need changes because this is a new sphere for me, so I do not know for sure what professional skills I should develop.