All year long we look forward to summer: the longer days, the warmer evenings, the more casual clothes. Summer is also a time when many of our clients have a break from the normal class schedules and take vacations.
For our clients, summer is a key time to offer professional development (PD) opportunities to many of the participants in their programs (e.g., high school teachers, college students) and allow them to focus on acquiring new skills that they can take back to the classroom in the fall. These can include training on a new pedagogy, research project or curriculum. We appreciate the opportunity to attend these PD sessions, as we always learn so much about the field of education, and the challenges and opportunities that teachers and their students encounter each day.
For us, our evaluation work is focused on observing PD sessions, conducting focus groups, administering surveys, and developing new instruments for the upcoming year. Summer is a time for us to put into practice so many of the skills that we do have. However, as the field of evaluation and applied research continues to grow, we also must grow with it in enhancing our toolkit of knowledge in a variety of ways through both formal and informal PD of our own.
While we don’t always have time to take formal courses of study to enhance our own professional development like the programs we evaluate, the informal professional development can include reading books, articles and other online resources as well as training each other on specific skills. For example, this summer, I am re-reading John Hattie’s books Visible Learning and Visible Learning for Teachers. Both are excellent resources to understanding what factors relate to student achievement. Our staff are training each other on analysis techniques and software programs that will help us in developing reports as well.
For more formal PD, I encourage our interns and staff to take courses or workshops when they are available. For example, Claremont Graduate University (CGU) offers excellent PD Workshops in Evaluation from August 25-30. In addition to the workshop that I am co-presenting with Tiffany Berry on Introduction to Educational Evaluation, the other workshops cover a variety of relevant topics for both professional evaluators and graduate students. Not only do these workshops provide technical training, but they are also a good time to network with other professionals and catch up with old friends.
There will be other opportunities for PD at conferences and other venues after summer has ended. But summer is a special time since the slower pace allows for fewer meetings and more time for us to write reports as well as plan and prepare for the next school year. What kind of professional development are you planning to do this summer?