Professional Development: Review

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Professional development is one of the most important forms of adult development in the modern world. It is important for people not only to be realized in their personal life or to be in harmony with themselves. They also want to reach career heights so that they feel important and professional. Therefore, it is necessary to constantly pay considerable attention to different ways of professional development. In this paper, such types as participation in conferences and mentoring are considered. These activities allow people to better understand how the career ladder works and what people should do to deeply understand it. Through these activities, young professionals gain useful knowledge and learn to interact with each other. This allows them to become truly significant and intelligent specialists who are in demand in the world of modern work.

PD Activity #1: Conference

Participation in a conference is one of the most rewarding types of development in a particular profession. This activity has a lot of advantages: from the necessary acquaintances to the experience of public speaking. At conferences, people receive a huge amount of highly specialized knowledge and learn to apply it in their activities. They find themselves in a friendly and interesting atmosphere that awakens creativity and motivates them to new achievements. This type of event is one of the most important for the development of any areas of science, career, education, and other spheres of human activity.

Last year I took part in the international scientific and practical conference “Personal and professional development of children, youth, and adults: problems and solutions.” It is conducted annually by the laboratory (group) of the psychology of professional development of personality. The purpose of the conference is to discuss the broad cultural context of the life of a modern person among scientists and practitioners from different countries. This makes it possible to study the professional life of people holistically in the unity of both personal and professional development and professional regression (Swaffield & Poekert, 2020). Attention was also paid to the unity of “positive” and “negative” professional evolution and factors that promote and hinder the development of specialists. The conference participants discussed “explicit” (periods of active professional activity) and “latent” (pre-training for a profession, vocational training, retraining, etc.) phases of personal and professional development of people. More than 150 representatives from different countries took part in the conference.

The plenary session was devoted to the topic “Theoretical, methodological, and practical problems of personal and professional development.” It was shown in the meeting that the polysubjective community is the psychological basis of an innovative educational environment. It activates the motivational and valuable resources of the personal and professional development of children, youth, and adults. Many reports covered undoubtedly important and useful topics for professional development. One of the reports was devoted to the conditions in which the implementation of the essential characteristics of an integrated approach turns into a factor in the formation of students’ professional competencies. The leading role of the personality of a university teacher in the professional, social, moral, and cultural development of a student as a citizen and a future specialist in a particular area of ​​public life was noted. Thus, interesting and serious themes were discussed during the conference. This allowed me to delve deeper into the topic and highlight important points of professional growth for myself.

During the conference, scientists discussed various developments of specialists from different countries in the field of professional development. As it turned out, many professionals have similar opinions on these issues, and the problems are common to most states. Undoubtedly, students and young professionals need mentoring and ongoing help, but they do not always have

access to it (Postholm, 2018). It was also noted that, in recent years, people strive for professional self-realization much more than before. This is due to the high level of freedom, internationalization, and a large number of career opportunities. Undoubtedly, such data inspire further professional development.

In my opinion, participation in this conference was of great benefit to me. I needed to get all this information to better understand how career development works. Undoubtedly, a lot of this can be learned in books, however, actual information from professionals is much more valuable. In addition, I was able to personally communicate with many of them. Thanks to this, I had an opportunity ask questions of interest to me that were not covered during the conference. In addition, participating in this event really inspired me to build my career. Each participant was motivated and active, and these are the qualities of people who are successful in this area.

PD Activity #2: Mentoring

Another critical professional development tool I used is mentoring. A mentor can help when people start a new business, plan changes, want to achieve results, but do not know where to start. Mentors are a source of information and answers to emerging questions. They are guides to a world of expertise that employees may not have (Zepeda, 2019). The role of a mentor can be compared to Google in professional development: they provide answers, find the information, but cannot apply it instead of mentees.

There are different types of mentoring, of which two are the most popular. The first is individual mentoring, in which mentors work with a person’s personal goals, questions, and tasks. They help to cope with possible difficulties, inspire, and help in personal or professional development. This format is often based on personal relationships, mutual desire to be in a mentoring relationship, and help. This is also the type that I chose for myself. My mentor was a teacher from a mainstream school, hence, this person knew information about the educational process “from the inside.” The second mentoring type is business mentoring, or mentoring in start-ups (Tang, 2018). In this case, mentors help launch a business idea, give feedback, or share contacts and knowledge for business development. The format of business mentoring can be built on the mentor’s interest in the project and the desire to help. Still, there are also options for equity participation, financial reward, or other bonuses.

To understand how mentoring works and why it is sometimes necessary to seek help from a mentor, I needed to understand why people become mentors, what is the point of sharing their knowledge. Mentoring is a way to grow from an expert to a manager, gain skills to develop a person or a team, learn to transfer knowledge, and develop others. This is a necessary quality for the mentor’s professional growth, and many use this tool to gain such experience and qualify for the promotion and career advancement. Mentoring is an opportunity to structure one’s experience and knowledge, understand one’s strengths, and fill in one’s gaps (Ende, 2016). People learn best when they teach others, and mentoring is a good way to understand what a person knows and where to repeat and learn. The transfer of knowledge to others allows one to realize and inventory expertise and determine the area of ​​further development. My mentor, being a teacher, was eager to give me useful knowledge and learn me how to become a good example for kids.

Mentoring is an opportunity to get motivation and inspiration, to diversify activities without changing the scope. The first steps and the first victories of a young mentee help to take a fresh look at mentor’s work or experience (Coady, 2016). This is a good opportunity to reboot, remove a touch of boredom and familiarity, get a charge of motivation, inspiration, and prepare for a new stage of development. For many, mentoring is also a way to pass on knowledge when people just want to share. Humanity passes on its experience from generation to generation, and this is inherent in people on an instinctive level. My mentor has worked in various mainstream schools for more than ten years and gained a substantial amount of professional knowledge, tricks, and skills. This is what I needed at the beginning of my path as a teacher. Knowing all this at the first stage of my career was helpful to become professional and competent even without a significant experience. I already understood how to communicate with kids and how to help them to get more useful information. Hence, mentoring was indeed helpful for both me and my mentor.

Mentoring is a two-way process because each side has its motives and benefits from such a relationship. Therefore, I should not perceive mentoring as charity, help at the expense of time and knowledge, or additional stress for the mentor. I wanted to find the person with whom I would have the same developmental needs so that we both would be interested in making our contribution and benefitting for ourselves. Seeking help and advice from a more experienced person is a standard and practical approach to life and career development (Trorey & Cullingford, 2017). Mentoring provides an opportunity to learn from a practitioner, adopt the best experience and methodology. When I can ask questions and find out exactly what worries me, this is an extremely helpful work. Therefore, I started to better understand the characteristics of the career path that I would like to pursue in the future. Even now I sometimes contact my mentor in some difficult situation which helps me to work with children.

During my communication with a mentor I figured out a few important details. Even being a school teacher, for me the mentor was not a teacher. Teacher-student relationship implies having the right answers and adhering to the teacher’s knowledge. A mentor is a source of experience and an additional view of the situation; it is an advisor, but not a source of solutions. People should not shift responsibility for their life and actions to the mentor. Mentors are not coaches, so one should not expect them to demand results and force to do something if the person is not motivated and ready to act. A mentor can be a kind of external controller. People need someone to whom they are responsible and carry out their plans at different stages because they promised someone other than themselves (Sangster, 2017). A mentor can become such a person, but a young professional will still have to act.

A mentor is not a psychologist, although there are situations when a person cannot tell anyone but the mentor about emotions and experiences. If a mentee regularly comes to complain and “drain” negativity, no one will tolerate this for a long time. For this, there are professionals who make money on such assistance (Bohall & Bautista, 2017). Mentors are also not a “ticket to a happy life” or a resource for employment. It is true that mentoring relationships often progress to a level where mentors are genuinely interested in helping. They share their contacts, recommend mentees for interesting positions, or act as a surety to the right person or organization. However, this happens if the relationship has developed, and the mentee has shown motivation, results, readiness, and desire for development for a long time. One should not go to a mentor with a selfish goal to achieve something specific.

Before looking for a mentor, I needed to define my goals, intentions, and questions. A mentor would not decide for me what needs to be done and where to go. I needed to better understand deep details of quality teaching, and my mentor indeed helped me in this matter. Alas, often young professionals want to shift responsibility for decisions and choices to mentors. However, no mentally healthy person would take on such a responsibility. Suppose a person needs help in choosing a profession, a direction of development, or a career trajectory. In that case, there are professional career consultants who can lead to a decision with the right questions and tasks (Laurin, 2018). Therefore, the first step towards mentoring is the answer to the question “Why do I need a mentor?” and goal definition. My answer to this question was “to help me understand the next steps in my career development and give some useful pieces of advice.”

I was ready to be active and even proactive because the mentor is a passive role – answering the request. For this, there must be a request, and it is the mentee who regulates the communication with the mentor, asks for meetings, poses questions, and looks for advice. If people are not willing to seek help and actively show interest, they will not benefit from a mentor. The words “ashamed” and “inconvenient to distract a person” should be forgotten. The mentor will adjust the communication rules and schedule if necessary, but the mentee’s initiative and motivation are exactly what prompts the person to help. It is important to be ready to act and implement what is planned (Kennedy, 2016). Mentors will not do anything for their mentees, therefore, having decided to use the time and experience of another person, young professionals are responsible for the implementation of what is planned in life. The mentor’s motivation is the mentee’s success and achievements, so they need to be ready to act and apply the mentor’s advice in practice. I felt it during my work with a mentor because I get a better understanding of my future career and learned multiple useful skills related to education. We achieved this goal together and were both proud of it.

Professional Development Plan

To draw up a professional development plan, it is necessary to identify the aspects to work on. I believe that I should learn to make as many independent decisions as possible without higher managers’ prior support. As a teacher, I will need to be a guide and an authority for kids, which is a big responsibility. It is also vital for me to develop “fighting” character qualities, which are not strong enough now. In particular, I will have to deliberately choose tasks that will require these qualities, and not compensate for the lack of perseverance by exploiting my other strengths. In addition, one of the areas to work on is the development of skills for publicly presenting information and influencing a wide audience (Ragoonaden & Bullock, 2016). It is essential to feel confident in front of the students because they feel teachers’ emotions and thus decide whether to obey or not. Thus, my goal for the near future is to develop communication skills. I must learn to choose the right style according to the situation and age of the audience, and convincingly defend my ideas and decisions when communicating with various categories of students.

One of the primary tasks in everyday life and work is to monitor all situations that influence students. I need to highlight successful and unsuccessful attempts of communication and analyse the reasons for the failure, and my strengths, which allowed me to successfully communicate with kids (Bolton & Delderfield, 2018). It will also be helpful to observe the behaviour of other strong teachers. I need to find the aspects that help them be convincing in the eyes of kids and adopt these influence methods.

One of the useful actions will be to find a consultant or mentor. Together with a consultant, I will have to make a level-by-level description of the competence “Public speaking skills” and assess myself in this area. After that, I will prepare for a few talks with a consultant and get feedback on my strengths and weaknesses. After conducting a joint analysis, I can formulate recommendations for improving the effectiveness of my performances. This way, I will be able to make measurable progress on the public speaking skills competency (Gore et al., 2017). This skill is useful and required in many areas of life, in particular, in working with kids; therefore, it is necessary to develop it.

In addition to the workflow, I believe that it is crucial to develop with external sources’ help. In my plan, there are several pieces of training and seminars that are necessary for my professional development as a teacher. For example, learning about designing and making decisions is a great way to develop an educational strategy better and help children in achieving they educational goals (Olawoyin & Hill, 2018). Courses in the art of influence are another area that can help me interact more productively during the study process. In addition, I would like to learn about the technology of effective presentations. In the age of modern technology, this is a necessary skill that must be maintained at a high level. Now children are extremely proficient in technologies and want to get an information presented in a convenient and beautiful way. Thus, the better I can do presentations for them, the more they learn.

Undoubtedly, a full-fledged career plan needs to be created based on a specific institution. Often employers or colleagues can help with this, as they see employees and their skills from the outside. Thus, being a teacher, I will need a view from outside to know what are my weak and strong sides. In addition, the career plan needs to be constantly modified and refined. Only in this way will I be able to adapt to the constant changes in the modern world. It is this adaptation that is the key to successful professional activity.

Conclusion

Having studied in detail the issue of professional development, it is possible to conclude that this process is necessary throughout the entire career. It is development that allows people to deepen the professional qualities necessary for any job. In addition, in the course of professional development, people have the opportunity to meet like-minded professionals. Thanks to this, they get connections, which also contribute to climbing the career ladder. Therefore, starting the process of professional development at a young age, employees and managers need to do it throughout your life. This is the only way to make real progress in any work, keeping up with trends and getting new ideas. It is through continuous learning that leaders can stay afloat and create new products that matter to humanity.

References

Bohall, G., & Bautista, M. (2017). The psychologist’s guide to professional development. Springer.

Bolton, G., & Delderfield, R. (2018). Reflective practice: Writing and professional development. SAGE.

Coady, M. (2016). Contexts, practices and challenges: Critical insights from continuing professional education: New directions for adult and continuing education. John Wiley & Sons.

Ende, F. (2016). Professional development that sticks: How do I create meaningful learning experience for educators? ASCD.

Gore, J., Lloyd, A., Smith, M., & Bowe, J. (2017). Effects of professional development on the quality of teaching: Results from a randomized controlled trial of quality teaching rounds. Teaching and Teacher Education, 68, 99-113.

Kennedy, M. M. (2016). How does professional development improve teaching? Review of Educational Research, 86(4), 945–980.

Laurin, A. (2018). The book on podcasting: Podcast for personal and professional development. Alexander Laurin.

Olawoyin, R., & Hill, D. C. (2018). Safety leadership and professional development. American Society of Safety Professionals.

Postholm, M. B. (2018). Teachers’ professional development in school: A review study. Cogent Education, 5(1). Web.

Ragoonaden, K., & Bullock, S. M. (2016). Mindfulness and critical friendship: A new perspective on professional development for educators. Lexington Books.

Sangster, C. (2017). Planning and organizing personal and professional development. Routledge.

Swaffield, S., & Poekert, P.E. (2020). Leadership for professional learning, Professional Development in Education, 46(4), 517-520.

Tang, M. (2018). Career development and counseling: Theory and practice in a multicultural world. SAGE Publications.

Trorey, G., & Cullingford, C. (2017). Professional development and institutional needs. Taylor & Francis.

Zepeda, S. J. (2019). Professional development: What works. Routledge.

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ChalkyPapers. 2022. "Professional Development: Review." February 1, 2022. https://chalkypapers.com/professional-development-review/.

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ChalkyPapers. "Professional Development: Review." February 1, 2022. https://chalkypapers.com/professional-development-review/.