If you're following along with my blog, you're probably familiar with my post from Friday, where I talked a lot about my renewed enthusiasm for professional development and personal fulfillment. I have spent a lot of time over the past few months trying to decide what I need to be a better professional and to develop my identity as a person first. I decided at the end of last week to undertake in developing a professional development curriculum for myself to help guide my goals over the next 12-18 months. The reflective practice has been really rewarding, and in true curriculum fashion, I started with an Archaeological Dig using a variety of resources to help me identify professional competencies, personal values, strengths and problem solving skills, and theories that guide my work as an educator. One of the theories that I have been placing a lot of emphasis on recently since finding it a few months ago is Integrated Life Planning (ILP). Although it is actually used more as a career development theory, the connection that I have drawn directly to being an educator is really inspiring. Hansen argues that, "Through ILP, I suggest that we are all quilters ... We try to help [others] make sense of where they have been, where they are, and where they are going. We as counselors are also quilters in the lives of our clients and employees, and in our institutions, as we try to make them more humane and meaningful places to study or work" (2011). Furthermore, it encourages inquiry into, what I would suggest should become a self-reflective question: "How can I continuously use internal and external critical life tasks to develop a meaningful holistic career pattern, including both self-fulfillment and betterment of society?" (2001). But seriously... does it get any more motivating than that?
As I have mentioned before, the reason I love education is because it provides an opportunity to work with students and colleagues and help them find meaning and purpose in their life. Whether it is in an academic program, a co-curricular learning experience, community engagement opportunity, or a fulfilling career path, I love that the work I do is directly related to helping others find their purpose in life. In fact, I was once asked in an interview "If you were given a million dollars to help others, how would you use it?" My answer was that I would use that money to help homeless people or those feeling unfilled in their lives find opportunities that are purposeful, because I truly believe that the best gift we can give another person is supporting them in their journey to self-actualization and purposeful living. As I'm sure you can tell, I am really drawn to this idea that we as educators are quilters, trying to weave together knowledge, skills, experience, academic pursuits, and purpose into a quilt of success for ourselves and those we support. With this in the forefront of my mind recently, I decided to use it as the basis of my educational priority: Professional development will enrich my knowledge and skills as a purposeful educational "quilter". I can't even begin to tell you how excited and inspiring this statement is to me in this moment.
From there, I began to list out several learning goals that I felt directly connected to the priority. My initial brainstorm list included 7: lifelong learning; personal values; mentoring relationships; holistic educator; professional skills; academic commitment; and career exploration. As I started to think of what defined each of these goals for me, I started to see a lot of overlap. Academic commitment and career exploration were very much integrated into what I believe my own lifelong learning looks like, so I combined the three of those. I also thought that having expertise in professional skills for my role was an important part of being a holistic educator, but so too was personal values, which I later changed to fulfillment. Initially, I had also connected personal values and mentoring relationships because I firmly believe that much of my own personal and professional success is in thanks to mentors I have had throughout my life and career, but each time I thought more about it, I really felt as though it deserved to be its own goal. The more I started to define what mentorship meant to me, I also really interconnected it with helping others develop in the same way my mentors had done for me. After about an hour of sorting, sifting, combining, defining and organizing, I finally had three goals:
As I'm sure you can imagine, there is a lot going through my head right now. I have all of these ideas about ways I can achieve my outcomes and some opportunities for self-assessment as well. The next step in this curriculum journey will be to decide what my educational strategies will be, and who the "experts" in helping me facilitate this learning experience are. I think I will likely need to brain dump into a concept map in order to make sense of all of my ideas. I'll be sure to post it when I'm done! :)
A creative educator striving to enhance the holistic student experience and committed to exploring personal fulfillment.