Every teacher knows that consistently asking personal growth questions is part of the game in education. They exist in all shapes and sizes and are meant to challenge educators to meet and exceed professional goals. It’s for the good of themselves, their colleagues, and most of all their learners, that they devote themselves to this. You have enough to do already, so why make PD complicated?
Personal development goes hand in hand with professional development. It enhances it by ensuring we look deep within ourselves to discover the true motivations for why we do what we do, and what’s most important to us as teachers. Ultimately, these realizations drive us to excel for the benefit of our learners, and for the future of education.
By no means are we advocating that the 7 personal growth questions we’ve provided below are the be-all-end-all of what you can reflect on during your journey. What they will do is provide you with a baseline for developing your craft in your own way.
7 Personal Growth Questions for All Teachers
These personal growth questions are ones that are simple enough to ask yourself every day, while also complex enough to ponder deeply and critically whenever you have time. And no matter how busy you are, there is always time.
1. What is most important to me as a teacher?
This is the key to determining your professional development direction right here. What matters to you most about being a teacher? What kind of teacher do you want to be, and why? What are the biggest reasons you have for your choice?
Don’t fall into the trap of making this one about policy and educational doctrine. This is an introspective and emotional inquiry—perhaps even spiritual for many of you. Consider it carefully and, above all else, listen to your heart.
2. What takes me out of my comfort zone?
Progress happens in the face of overcoming challenges. But how do we constructively challenge ourselves if we can’t step away from feeling safe in our vocations? Do something that you’ve never done before—in your practice, in a relationship with a colleague, or what have you.
Think “what if …” and then act on it. If it makes you uncomfortable to consider or even scares you a little, you might be on to something.
3. How can I make sure I am learning every day?
Modeling lifelong learning is something every teacher must do for their learners. It comes through curiosity and a willingness to explore the unknown. Our learners benefit from our passion as educators when we display the same love for learning we want them to have when they leave us. How can you best do this every day?
4. What is the most amazing thing about me and how can I use it in my teaching?
Stop being modest—you’re awesome and you know it. So it’s time to let your learners know it too. Think about what you can do that no one else can. Recall a time when someone pointed out something remarkable about you that you’ve always taken for granted. “Wow, you really know how to _______.”
Are you good with humour? Are you highly creative with design and visuals? Are you able to use wisdom and compassion to turn any negative experience into a positive one? Are you an entertaining storyteller? What’s your special talent? And for crying out loud, why aren’t you making it part of your teaching?
5. What is the most important thing my learners need from me?
There is a simple and highly effective way to figure this one out: ask them. It also happens to be the only way. You don’t have to let yourself be afraid of the answers you get either, especially when you come from a place of heartfelt concern for your kids. So ask them what the need; they’ll surprise you and delight you, and they might even make you cry. Isn’t meaningful connection amazing?
6. How can I connect and communicate better with parents and colleagues?
Nothing changes you like perspective. As young and experienced teachers, we often do many things wrong. As parents, we also do things wrong. These moments present prime opportunities for teachers and parents to support each other and consistently bridge the communication gap.
In the end, nothing beats how parents and teachers can unite to solve problems and tackle issues together. The same is true for teachers who come together in the same way. What are the most proactive ways you can improve rapport with parents and colleagues to sustain a culture of support?
7. What am I going to start doing today to become a better teacher than I was yesterday?
You’ll find there is never a bad time to ponder this question. This doesn’t mean you’re not a fantastic teacher already; quite the opposite, in fact. It’s the idea that you are constantly looking for ways to improve that make you as incredible as you are. Everyone that’s a part of your life experience benefits from this.
Ask it as a personal reflection at the end of your day. Ask it at the beginning of your morning as a mediation. Ask it as you write in your daily journal. Ask it multiple times a day, even. Just make sure you ask it.