Taking Time for Yourself
Teachers share why it’s instrumental and why you should do it, too
Last year, more than 2,300 local educators participated in training and professional development through Sourcewell.
While the opportunities are plentiful, time necessarily isn’t. With continued expectations, educators are finding less and less time in the day to accomplish what needs to be done.
So how can you fit in lifelong learning; and most importantly, why should you?
Karrie Ehlenfeldt and Shannon Rivard are veteran teachers in the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley School District and say that professional development has not only opened doors for them but has also provided best practices and ideas that can be immediately implemented in the classroom.
Rivard began teaching in 1995 and participated in her first professional development course when Sourcewell was still known as the National Joint Powers Alliance.
“I’ve been around long enough to see new things come and go and come back again,” she says.
Over time, Rivard has taken part in opportunities including Catalyst and ENVoY (Educational Nonverbal Yardsticks), the Peer Coaching Academy, Literacy Leaders Academy, and the Instructional Coach Network. However, it was by getting involved in High Reliability Schools work that doors were opened for her as a professional.
“Our work with Dr. Phil Warrick at WHA to become a High Reliability demonstration school led to the opportunity to work directly with Dr. Robert Marzano to pilot his High Reliability Teacher program,” Rivard notes.
A year-and-a-half after getting the green light from her principal and gathering a cohort of five teachers willing to participate, Rivard said she became certified as a Level 3 High Reliability Teacher.
“My teaching grew immensely,” she says. “I could see the difference in how my students were engaged with their learning and the process of learning.”
Fellow WHA educator Karrie Ehlenfeldt began her journey in Sourcewell’s professional development opportunities when she participated in the same cohort to become Level 3 certified.
“I was able to work with a group of peers from WHA to learn about proficiency scales, reliable assessments and data, reflect on my practices, and engage in ways to make them even more effective. This process of taking a step back and truly learning about ways to adjust, reflect on my learners in the classroom, and reflect on my own practices has led me to become the teacher I am today.”
In addition to HRT training, Ehlenfeldt has joined educator networks, participated in Alternative Career Pathways (ACP), Tech Mobile, Catalyst, the HRS Summit, and took part in the Minnesota Summit for Leading and Learning. Ehlenfeldt and Rivard were also selected as model instructors to demonstrate best practices for Avanti, an online hub sharing best practice videos with fellow educators.
“The work that I have done at Sourcewell is more than professional development,” Ehlenfeldt notes. “It has evolved who I am as a professional, teacher, and coach. I love that I have time to discuss, plan, play, or do and leave with a plan or ideas for implementation. When I learn, ideas run wild in my brain. This time to commit to learning and my professionalism allows me to continue to grow, learn new skills, and try new ideas.”
Both Rivard and Ehlenfeldt agree that more educators should make time for professional development and learning.
“Look at the catalogs for offerings,” Ehlenfeldt suggests. “Start with a network in your subject area or think about something you’d love to learn more about and connect with Sourcewell to brainstorm offerings. Develop yourself as a professional. Take the time to learn and grow as a teacher leader and immerse yourself in the learning of our profession. We owe it to our students to do our best, be our best, and learn about our craft as well.”
Discover the programs and services available to you at mn.sourcewell.org/education/educators.