ERIC Identifier: ED321155
Publication Date: 1990-00-00
Author: Imel, Susan
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult
Career and Vocational Education Columbus OH.
Managing Your Professional Development: A Guide for Part-Time
Teachers of Adults. ERIC Digest.
Professional development is a continuing process consisting of activities
that enhance professional growth. It may include workshops, independent reading
and study, conferences, and consultation with peers and experts. Since its
primary purpose is to benefit the individual, professional development should be
planned and managed by the individual. As a part-time teacher of adults, you may
develop your professional development plan in consultation with your supervisor,
and you may receive help from others in evaluating and modifying teaching
practices. On the other hand, since you may be working in relative isolation
from other teachers and administrators, you may need to take sole responsibility
for your professional development (Jones and Lowe 1982). Whether you work
collaboratively or individually, you should be involved in identifying your
professional development needs and in deciding what strategies to use to address
those needs. Developed in conjunction with the American Association for Adult
and Continuing Education, this ERIC DIGEST provides information that you can use
in planning and managing your professional development. First, the following
aspects of professional development are covered: developing a plan, identifying
resources, and receiving feedback. Some research- and practice-based guidelines
that can be used in managing your professional development activities conclude
ASPECTS OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Taking charge of your
professional development means that you will take responsibility for planning
and carrying out a number of activities. Three important aspects of professional
development--developing a plan, locating resources, and receiving feedback--are
DEVELOPING A PLAN
Developing a plan for professional
development is essential because it will encourage you to address your
professional self-improvement activities in a proactive manner. It will also
provide a framework for the discipline and commitment needed to achieve the
planned changes inherent in any professional development program (Jones and Lowe
The Personal Professional Development Model (Jones and Lowe 1982, 1985) is a
planning process that has been used successfully by part-time teachers in
achieving their professional development goals. The model consists of four
phases: initiating, planning, managing, and evaluating. Three of the stages are
reflective, that is, they involve contemplation and reflection to answer a
series of questions. In only one stage--managing--is there activity. Each phase
is accomplished by addressing a series of steps as follows:
Initiating Phase (Reflective)
- What do I hope to accomplish?
- What are my learning objectives?
- What is my potential payoff?
Planning Phase (Reflective)
- What resources are available to me?
- What will be my learning activities?
- How will I judge the success of this project?
Managing Phase (Active)
- Complete each activity in the planning phase
- Organize and interpret data
- Record progress and/or report findings
Evaluative Phase (Reflective after the fulfillment of plan)
- To what extent did I achieve my objectives?
- To what extent did I select and pursue appropriate
- What are my learning needs now? (Jones and Lowe 1985, p.
Answering the questions in the initiating and planning phases can help commit
you to a plan of action for your professional development. The managing and
evaluative phases can be used to describe the outcomes of your project.
Teachers who used this model reported a number of advantages. First, they
accomplished more because the model contributed to their organization and
discipline in achieving their objectives. The model also provided structure and
emphasized their responsibility for their own learning. Finally, the model
reduced procrastination (Jones and Lowe 1985).
Successful implementation of a
professional development plan requires resources. You will need to identify the
resources to carry out your professional development plan. These resources might
include print and nonprint materials, staff development opportunities, and other
In New Mexico, adult basic education teachers engaged in self-directed
professional development activities found human resources to be of key
importance in their projects. Books and articles were also essential in their
learning, and several used structured activities such as workshops or classes in
accomplishing their goals (Smith and Bowes 1986).
Another important aspect of professional
development is feedback. Feedback is necessary in order to see what progress you
are making toward your goals and objectives. Although self-assessment can be one
means of receiving feedback, it is important to involve others in this process
as well. Adult basic education teachers have identified receiving feedback in a
nonthreatening environment as a key element in successful professional
development efforts (Lowe 1990a; Smith and Bowes 1986).
GUIDELINES FOR MANAGING YOUR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
following guidelines for managing your professional development are derived from
research and practices cited in the literature (Bowes 1984; Jones and Lowe 1985,
1990; Lowe 1990a,b; "Principles and Techniques for Effective ABE Staff
Development" 1988; Smith and Bowes 1986).
1. Prepare for professional development activities by defining what is to be
learned; deciding how to proceed; selecting methods, activities, and resources;
securing your supervisor's support; and thinking through logistical
considerations such as time, place, and pacing. This advance planning will help
2. In developing your plan, begin by writing only one or two sentences about
what you hope to accomplish and stating no more than three objectives. You will
avoid frustration by not attempting too much at one time.
3. Be aware that such factors as lack of time, resources, or administrative
support may deter or hinder your professional development. Acknowledging that
such factors exist is the first step in overcoming them.
4. Form a network of individuals who can provide ongoing feedback on the
types of changes you are trying to make. The network can include other teachers
in your program, your supervisor, and professional colleagues you have met at
conferences and staff development activities.
5. Attend a professional conference as a part of your plan for professional
development. Conferences are excellent places to meet people who have similar
interests and to find out about new resources. Since conference attendance alone
is not likely to change your performance, develop follow-up and reinforcing
mechanisms such as keeping in touch with the people you meet, acquiring and
using the resources, and so forth.
6. Enlist the assistance of colleagues at your work site. They can provide
the support, resources, and ongoing feedback required to implement new
7. Make on-site visits to other programs. These visits can enhance your
understanding of teaching practices and expand your professional network.
8. Select one of your peers to be your partner in learning a new technique or
procedure. Working in pairs provides an opportunity to practice and receive
feedback in a nonthreatening environment.
9. Join an adult education professional association. Professional
associations provide publications such as newsletters and journals that serve as
resources. They also sponsor conferences and workshops that offer opportunities
for professional networking. For more information about professional
associations in adult education, contact the American Association for Adult and
Continuing Education, 1112 Sixteenth Street, N.W., Suite 420, Washington, DC
10. Become familiar with the resources available through the ERIC system.
ERIC, the Educational Resources Information Center, is a federally funded
information system that collects and disseminates information on all aspects of
education. A number of ERIC Clearinghouses provide free or low-cost resources
that can be used to support your professional development. For more information
on ERIC resources, contact the ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and
Vocational Education, 1900 Kenny Road, Columbus, OH 43210-1090.
Bowes, S. G. "Self-Directed Staff Development
for ABE Teachers." Adult Literacy and Basic Education 8, no. 3 (1984): 147-154.
(ERIC No. EJ 324 852).
Jones, E. V., and Lowe, J. H. "Teacher Evaluation and Staff Development in
Adult Basic Education (ABE)." New Directions for Continuing Education: Linking
Philosophy and Practice no. 15, edited by S. Merriam. San Francisco:
Jossey-Bass, September 1982.
Jones, E. V., and Lowe, J. "Adult Education Staff Development: Program
Research and Implementation." Adult Literacy and Basic Education 9, no. 2
(1985): 80-86. (ERIC No. EJ 333 845).
Jones, E. V., and Lowe, J. "Changing Teacher Behavior: Effective Staff
Development." Adult Learning 1, no. 7 (May 1990): 8-10.
Lowe, J. "Making Staff Development Work." GED Items 7, no. 1
(January-February 1990a): 6.
Lowe, J. "Attending Professional Conferences." GED Items 7, no. 2
(March-April 1990b): 6.
"Principles and Techniques for Effective ABE Staff Development. Examples from
Five Exemplary Programs." Washington, DC: Division of Adult Education, Office of
Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education, 1988. (ERIC
Document Reproduction Service No. ED 291 914.)
Smith, R. M., and Bowes, S. G. "Self-Directed Staff Development for ABE
Teachers: A Case Study." Adult Literacy and Basic Education 10, no. 2 (1986):
80-89. (ERIC No. EJ 342 138).