Professional Development for a Life-Long Learner

This month’s blog asked, “What have you found to be most valuable in developing professionally as a Eboni Chillis214career and technical educator?”  There is one word that is blaring in the aforesaid question and that is…“professionally”. 

As a professional career and technical educator, we have a social, economic, technical, and academic responsibility to stay abreast of business/industry, post-secondary, and legislative trends.  The professional in us entails the true quintessence of a life-long learner.  A life-long learner desires and seeks new knowledge and skills. They are open and willing to learn from others.  In order to learn from others, a life-long learner understands the value of joining professional organizations and actively serving in those organizations to expand ones' interactions and beliefs.   In expanding our own beliefs, we realize that we have much to learn and are never “truly” the expert unless we keep developing our knowledge base, skills, and networking relationships and experiences.  Professionally speaking, a life-long learner is a practicing critical thinker, one who will consistently reason, problem-solve, and is fair-minded.  The value in developing professionally as a career and technical educator is to benefit young minds that will surpass anything we’ve imaged, learned, or thought possible. These young minds will be the change agents in our ever-evolving global marketplace as problem solvers and innovators.

How can relevant and purposeful professional development change your teaching style and/or outcomes?  There is a professional post-secondary educator, I know.  We will call her “Dr. Blaze”.  Dr. Blaze prepares adults who are second-career seekers desiring to enter into career and technical field at the secondary level. The curriculum design is based on national and state teaching standards. The course work is authentic and truly reflects the demands of the teaching practice: _______________ (if you are an educator, you can fill-in the blank).  But I do not think Dr. Blaze realizes that is it not the course design, course work, or authentic learning experiences she brings to the classroom. It is her example of professionalism.  It is her wealth of knowledge and skills. And it is her leading by example of what is it to be a life-long learner as a career and technical educator. When I first entered education, Dr. Blaze introduced me to ACTE and the plethora of professional development available to impact teaching, learning and serving professionally.

So I’ll remind us, “What have I found to be most valuable in developing professionally as a career and technical educator?”  The answer: life-long learning to stay abreast of business/industry, post-secondary, and legislative trends to benefit young minds enrolled in CTE programs.  Our sustained economic development depends on it! CTE professional development, today, tomorrow, and beyond MATTERS!

By:  Eboni Camille Chillis, PhD, Coordinator of Career, Technical & Agricultural Education, Clayton County Public Schools

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