Keeping Track of Professional Development

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If you’re anything like me, the thought of having more paper lying around probably drives you crazy. Especially after attending professional development sessions/days when you’re given hand-out after hand-out to remind you of what you’ve learnt. I know that I do in fact return to some of those hand-outs but often? I don’t.

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Here are some digital and non-digital tips for managing your PD notes and papers.

Non digital ideas

I like to handwrite notes at PD, that’s just my preference. I find that if I handwrite notes I am more likely to remember them – but I know not everyone prefers that method. If you are like me, however, find yourself a single PD notebook for the year. Keep everything in one place that way you always know where to find it if you need to refer back to it. This year I’ve started using a traveler’s notebook with a Moleskine Cahier notebook for my PD notes. Everything goes in there, with the title, date, length and presenter’s name. It doesn’t have to be pretty or shiny, but I know it’s in there. Plus, when I finish with it, I can sit it neatly on a shelf until I need it (or I need to get rid of it after calculating my PD hours each year).

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For the hand-outs, find yourself a folder that you can easily add plastic pockets to. A ring-bound or disc-bound folder would work great for this. Depending on your filing system,  you could file by subject, presenter or date. Keep this somewhere close to your desk so you file your handouts straight away. There’s nothing worse than finding handout notes 6 months later in a pile of paper your forgot about!

Digital ideas

I know a lot of people prefer to compile their PD notes/attendance digitally. There are a lot of options out there because the range of programs and apps available are huge. If you do want to just type your notes up, some of the ones I like include:

Evernote – simply create a PD folder and add a new note each time you attend a PD session. You can also add tags to your notes to make it easier to search later on. Plus you can add images, audio, etc as you go (as long as you have the presenter’s permission), which is even easier if you’re using a tablet or your phone.

Google Docs/Drive – this is especially useful if you’re attending PD with colleagues. Create a collaborative document for taking notes and share it with your colleagues. That way you have the benefit of your notes AND theirs and it’s also a great way to facilitate conversations post-PD session.

Word/Pages/Notes – using simple word processing documents can be a really simple option, especially if you’re just typing.

Blog – when I originally started this blog, it was a place to reflect on my professional practise (and that includes reflecting on PD). This is a great platform to go back and revisit what you have learnt and then try and communicate it to others. And if you don’t want it to be seen by others, you can set it to private or even leave it as a draft but you know it’s there if you need it.

Other tips

Scan your handouts and store them digitally. Set up a good digital filing system (perhaps by year, or by subject) and scan your papers and get rid of them when you’re done. This is by far my favourite way to cut down on excess papers floating around on my desk. Do the same with any slides/handouts that presenters email to you. Be sure to have a consistent file name process so that you can search for things easily, too (e.g.: PD_Date_SessionTitle)!

If you don’t have a scanner, take a photo of your handouts (we do live in a smart phone age!) and add them to your folder or Evernote or Dropbox.

I hope that gives you all some ideas to review your PD paper management systems. I’d love to know how YOU manage your PD notes and papers, so don’t forget to leave a comment down below.

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