Is Your Professional Growth Happenstance or Intentional?
Volume 46 Issue 5
By Eric Rossen
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), school psychology as a field, and related disciplines have long valued the importance of lifelong learning. Beyond the role of continuing education and professional development in maintaining credentials in most jurisdictions, school psychologists have an ethical responsibility to maintain competence and expertise (NASP, 2010b). Specifically, the NASP Principles for Professional Ethics note that “professional skill development beyond that of the novice practitioner requires well-planned continuing professional development and professional supervision” (p. 6).
The Importance of a Professional Growth Plan
Given the breadth and depth of school psychologists' knowledge base and skill sets (and the variety of professional growth opportunities), having a personalized professional growth plan can make all the difference in the value of professional development efforts. Indeed, the activities that may promote lifelong learning and professional growth can vary significantly, both in their effectiveness and personal relevance. The variety of potentially relevant activities is underscored by the need to continually adapt to changing roles and contexts. NASP provides a range of categories that describe activities contributing to an individual's professional growth or development (see CPD Guidelines: http://www.nasponline.org/standards-and-certification/national-certification/ncsp-renewal/cpd-guidelines).
Regardless of the types of professional growth opportunities utilized, school psychologists are encouraged to engage in a planned and intentional process in selecting appropriate activities (Armistead, 2014) rather than selecting activities based on convenience or comfort level alone. In fact, the NASP Practice Model (NASP, 2010a) suggests “school psychologists engage in lifelong learning and formulate personal plans for ongoing professional growth” (p. 9). Several states, including Nevada and Montana, have embedded a requirement to complete and evaluate personal plans for professional growth as part of the renewal criteria for educator credentials.
Introducing NASP's New Professional Growth Planning Tool
In response to this need, NASP recently developed and made available the NASP Professional Growth Plan (PGP; available at the CPD Guidelines link above). This template is designed to help structure professional growth activities that directly connect to a set of identified professional goals, and to create a process to help evaluate and adapt goals from year to year. NASP has also provided a sample for how to complete the rubric.
Additionally, NASP recommends completing the PGP in concert with the NASP Self-Assessment for School Psychologists (http://apps.nasponline.org/standards-and-certification/survey/survey_launch.aspx), a free online tool that helps map areas of perceived need using the NASP Practice Model as a framework. The NASP Self-Assessment provides a report immediately upon completion, and can be completed as many times as necessary. In fact, the NASP Professional Growth Committee recently announced that those completing the NASP Self-Assessment and PGP together can claim one NASP-Approved CPD credit per year for purposes of renewing the NCSP credential. School psychologists may also complete self-assessment and PGP tools used by their school or district, provided they align with the NASP Practice Model, to receive CPD credit. Note that completing the PGP is not a requirement for NCSP renewal; rather, it provides a valuable tool to assist school psychologists in planning and structuring their own professional growth over time.
Make the Most of the NASP Convention
Consider completing the NASP Self-Assessment and PGP, particularly as you plan for convention. Share your thoughts with your supervisor, mentor, or trusted colleague for input to help hone the plan. With the 1,000+ available sessions and opportunities for professional growth at the convention, creating a plan may help you narrow your focus and make best use of your time. If you have colleagues going to the convention as well, see if you can coordinate with them to compare personal professional development goals as they relate to district priorities so that you can make the most of sessions as a team. It can also help if you are selecting sessions in NASP's Online Learning Center after the convention is over (https://nasp.inreachce.com). Creating a PGP can help you reflect on the types of activities that support your professional growth throughout the year, and your career.
Armistead, L. (2014). Best practices for continuing professional development for school psychologists. In P. L. Harrison & A. Thomas, Best practices in school psychology: Foundations (pp. 611–626). Bethesda, MD: National Association of School Psychologists.
National Association of School Psychologists. (2010a). Model for comprehensive and integrated school psychological services. Bethesda, MD: Author.
National Association of School Psychologists. (2010b). Principles for professional ethics. Bethesda, MD: Author.
Eric Rossen, PhD, is NASP Director, Professional Development and Standards