In our last blog we encouraged you to reflect on your own professional development goals and included several thoughts to help you with that reflection. We hope that you considered at least a few of those questions because this month we want to take a deeper look at two of them:
- Do you have an updated professional development plan?
- What are your professional goals for 1 year, 5 years, 10 years?
Reflection and Documentation
Regardless of your age, educational background, or plans to stay in the early childhood field, professional development is a critical issue for you and your colleagues. Understanding what professional development includes for you is the first step in developing a comprehensive plan. Your plan must reflect your personal goals for both short and long term growth. Many providers find it helpful to spend time thinking about the future in an intentional way. As you ask yourself questions, we encourage you to keep a record of your answers so that you can refer to it in the future.
Considering questions such as the following might be helpful to you in your planning:
- Do you have any plans to leave the early childhood field in the next year? 5 years? 10 years?
- If you are planning to leave the field, will you be retiring or changing careers?
- What steps have you taken to make this change?
- If you are planning to stay in the field, what do you expect to be doing in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?
- Will you need specialized training or education to meet those goals?
- Does your family support your choices?
While you consider these questions, it’s likely that you’ll identify additional information or questions that must be addressed. Be sure to include those in your document. They will be helpful as you update your current professional development and may give insight that is important.
Now Update Your Professional Development Plan
After taking some time to think about where you are now and where you want to be in 1, 5, or 10 years, it’s time to think about what an updated professional development plan will look like. If you expect to leave early childhood, how might you be able to use your experience in your new role? Pinpoint areas that have commonalities to see what translates to your new field. Will you need specialized training to begin in a new role? What is your plan for obtaining that training? Is anything you do in your program now transferrable to a new role? Include that information on your document so that you know what you’ll need to get the best start in something new.
If you plan to stay in early childhood, do you know what the training and education requirements are in your state? Are you current in your training or do you need additional training or education? As part of your professional development are there specific areas that you would like to improve in your caregiving? Do know where to get the training you need for this area or have someone you can ask for advice? Will you need to travel for training/education or is it available online?
These are just some of the beginning questions you need to consider as you create your professional development plan. Next month, we’ll address why understanding professional development is an important component of your job in early childhood.