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Principals face many challenges in leading for the 21st century. Transformations in school systems and communities in the U.S. and around the world have greatly expanded the leadership role of principals. MEMSPA and NAESP advocate for the support principals need to be successful 21st century leaders—to achieve the highest results for children, families, and communities.



Tips to get Quality Professional Development

By Jonathon Wennstrom

Tips to get Quality Professional Development

I have a confession to make. I love professional development. Let me qualify that statement. I love professional development when I can pick the topic (and/or the speaker). I know many people who give a silent groan when they hear the initials PD. I don't blame them, because PD that is designated or handed down to educators can often be irrelevant, boring, and even sometimes insulting to one's intelligence. I've been through some of them. Fortunately, those have been the exception and I've often been able to choose the sessions I attend or pick the speakers I want to see. Here are some tips I've picked up to be able to get quality professional development sessions:

Join a professional organizationI've been extremely fortunate to be a part of MEMSPA (Michigan Elementary & Middle School Principals Association) for many years. Two years ago, I gave my first presentation and last year, I began serving on the board of directors. The more involved I've become, the more I've gotten out of the organization...including world class professional development and speakers. From best selling authors to amazing principals from across the state, this organization puts on the best PD around! If you're not a part of a professional organization, join one! The rewards are many and you will be a part of something that will help you grow professionally.

Get networked: There are so many ways to connect with other educators. Reach out to others in your building, attend ISD meetings and trainings, or simply get on Twitter! With Twitter, you can learn from educators around the world and find innovative educators to connect with and perhaps join a chat that focuses on areas of interest. I've become a better principal from learning from my Professional Learning Network (PLN).

Attend conferences or Ed Camps: As mentioned above, I just attended the annual MEMSPA conference. However, you don't have to wait for annual conferences from professional organizations. Most ISDs and regional education services put on professional development sessions. Not sure what's out there? Check their web pages or go on Twitter. I bet you'll find something relevant to you and your learning. Maybe attend an Ed Camp in your area, where you can choose the topic of your learning. Nothing near you? Start up your own Ed Camp or PD with other educators. Everyone has something to learn and something to share...Even you!

Share with your district: I think Central Office staff and curriculum directors want to provide quality PD for staff, but they need our help. If you have an interest, a presenter, or a topic in mind...tell them! My experience is that when possible, districts will provide relevant PD if they have feedback and input from staff. When we collaborate and plan, we can make our learning and training relevant.

The main way to get quality professional development is to be proactive. If we wait for PD to be handed to us, we lose the opportunity for voice and choice. Students need these things and so do we as educators. Yes, we will always have our mandated trainings that we need to attend, but make those the exception. Inspirational professional development is out there...go get it! 
MEMSPA went with a Western Theme this year! 

Outstanding presentations I had the opportunity to attend at the 91st MEMSPA conference:

Teach Like a Pirate presented by Dave Burgess
Leading from the Inside Out presented by Allyson Apsey 
Making the Case for Mentoring Principals presented by Kurt Sutton & Doni St. Amour
Legislative Update by State Superintendent Brian Whiston & MEMSPA Executive Director Paul Liabenow
Leadership Matters Alumni Meeting with Derek Wheaton & Debbie McFalone
Literacy Essentials presented by Dr. Nell Duke of the University of Michigan
Growth Mindset: Learning Through Failure (I had the privilege of presenting this topic)
Twitter for Professional Development presented by Mike Domagalski 
Shared Leadership in Action facilitated by Jennifer Suck
Supporting LBGTQ Students presented by Craig McCalla
Inspiration for Educators presented by Dr. Adolph Brown


Shanna Spickard

Jennifer Mayes


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