What exactly is a Personal Development Plan, and how does one go about constructing one? I am of the belief that life is all one big personal development plan. We make plans, and as they either come to fruition or fail, we regroup and reorganize. I asked myself what exactly I wanted out of life, and, of course, a majority of life has to do with what one does for a living. I have a talent. I can sing the most beautiful opera anyone has ever heard. I was told for the majority of my life that it was my responsibility to share that talent with the world. Personally, I don’t find any gratification in it. It is fun to sing, but I am not accustomed to the limelight, and do not like much attention from people in a performance capacity. So, I decided that I did not want to perform for a living. I changed my major from Vocal Performance to several things, and after living for a year in Yosemite National Park I decided what I wanted to do: Major in Biology and be a veterinarian.
Through the course of my education in biology I was blessed to work closely with professors who led me in the direction of laboratory research, which I found to be very personally and professionally gratifying. There is something about asking a question that doesn’t have an answer and then working toward answering that question with one’s own skills and intelligence. After I graduated with my biology degree, I had the opportunity to follow my mentor to a new university and seek my PhD in plant population genetics.
I decided not to enter the program based on a few factors: 1. PhDs in science can take up to 8 years to attain, and require considerable dedication (up to 80 hours a week) to lab work and research. I don’t think my 8 year old (then 6 year old) would appreciate being without her mother for that length of time. 2. Funding for environmental research is plummeting and no one can ensure that it will increase in the future. Again, I don’t think my daughter would be too keen on her mom not being able to secure funding when a prom dress is to be had. 3. As is evident from numbers 1 and 2, my daughter is my absolute priority in life. You could say that she is my personal development plan. In being the best mom I can possible be, I wanted to find a career that would enable me to spend the time needed with her, still be involved in research and science, and still educate people (my aspirations were, and still are, to become a college professor). Currently, I am attaining my Master’s degree in Secondary Science through an NSA grant (Noyce Scholars Program), and so far, I am excited about the future and look forward to continued inspiration from my professors and fellow educators alike.
My current aspirations revolve around my career and my daughter. My short term goals include securing a position with the Mobile County school system as a high school science teacher. This will support another goal of mine: keep a schedule that is similar to my daughter’s so that we can spend more time together. I would also like to travel and educate myself abroad as much as possible. Long term goals include attaining a PhD in Education and eventually teaching at the college level.
I believe that my greatest strength is my love of science! I am constantly reading, researching, web-surfing, and seeking out the newest and late-breaking science trends and articles. It is very important to me that the science I share has been tested and peer reviewed, so as not to support any pseudo-science that is overtaking the internet. It is so important as an educator that the information that I discuss is reliable.
Other strengths include multitasking and working well with others under stressful situations. I have worked in the hospitality industry through the course of my education, which takes an exorbitant amount of multitasking and inter-personal communication. The ability to personally manage time is very important both in the service industry and in the laboratory setting as well. There is not much micro-managing involved in either field, it is up to everyone that is part of the team to make decisions based on what is happening at that moment.
The ability to empathize and compromise is extremely important in dealing with students. Narcissism and an impetus for success have their places in business, competitive sports, and a myriad of other careers, but in order to be a successful educator, one must know that the success of the students supersedes and in some ways dictates a teacher’s success. Empathy and compromise are traits that I am thankful for everyday.
A teacher must be highly organized and focused, with the ability to be fluid with that organization. You never know what the school day will bring. A lesson plan is like a mini Personal Development Plan: you have a plan, but sometimes plans change depending on the situation.
In order to be a successful teacher, one must have an extensive grasp of the subject matter that is being taught. I have heard it said that if you teach something twice, you have a good grasp of the information. I have a slightly different philosophy. There may be a rudimentary understanding of information that someone has looked up and taught a couple of times, but in order to really flesh out an idea or theory for instruction, a teacher should be very familiar with the subject matter. This will inspire conversations and ideas in the classroom that a more simplistic understanding of the subject matter cannot foster.
I have a Biology degree with a concentration in Genetics and Microbiology. This is a great basis to pair with my Masters Degree in Education. I have the skills to fully comprehend and create lesson plans and experiments, paired with the education classes that are preparing me for classroom organization and performance. I had the opportunity to participate in an internship at Semmes Middle School in Mobile County, AL, and shadow a science teacher there. It was very fun and informative! I do not have much experience with kids of that age group, and it was so great to see their enthusiasm and interest for the subjects. Teaching was very organic there, with students promoting the lesson plans themselves through discussion and questions. I feel very blessed to have had that hands-on experience before getting my degree in education. As an NSTA member, I have been fortunate to be involved in several seminars and conventions that foster continued education and hope to continue to network and learn from other teachers from around the country. I plan on utilizing summer breaks in order to maximize my continued education plan.
I am currently working toward my Masters in Science Education, and after graduation, I plan to take a position as a science teacher at a high school in Mobile County. During summer breaks, I will teach abroad in third world or under-developed countries for a part of the summer, and utilize seminars for continued education. After a few years experience, I plan on working toward my PhD in education, while conducting research that I will seek publication for. After graduating with my PhD, I will seek a position at the college level, in order to inspire and teach future educators. Throughout this plan, I look forward to building a family life for myself and my daughter and enjoying life in general!
Constructing a personal development plan was a bit more time consuming that I anticipated. I have a foundation upon which I want to build my professional career, and an overall idea of where I want to go, but to really sit down and express those ideas is not always the easiest thing to do. Throughout the process, I have kept my lifestyle priorities in mind, for without enjoyment in life, no one can really enjoy their career and vice-versa.
I have pared my priorities down to 5 major ones:
- To enjoy quality time with my daughter.
- To be employed in a career that will be enjoyable and also improve the community.
- To maintain my standards as a life-long learner.
- To travel as much as possible.
- To have the time and availability to allow my interests and influences to change and grow
I believe that in every aspect of life, if you are true to yourself and your family, if you truly love what you do, and you have the faith needed to persevere, happiness will be the only option.
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