American teachers [1. Other professions have something similar in place. For example, RNs must earn annual CEUs (Continuing Education Units).] are required to stay current with the latest educational trends, practices and theories. In fact, the state has formalized the process by requiring them to earn a certain number of Professional Development Points, or PDPs, per year. My wife is in the process of picking some up which made me think … why aren’t I?
Staying current, sharpening skills, pushing forward professionally … these are things all professionals should do. Unfortunately, most industries don’t have a formal system in place. It’s worse for independents like me; I can progress or stagnate with no one to answer to but myself. With that in mind, I’ve devised a system to identify professional areas of need and make sure they get fed.
I’m going with a college semester model. Right now I’m in my spring semester. What will I study? Well, that was determined by answering this questionnaire.
- What do you want to learn?
- What is the next step in your career?
- What concrete, observable actions can you take to take the next step?
The answer to number one was simple: I want to continue to write about Apple, Inc. The next step is twofold: To improve my current skills and to write for a wider audience. Step three gets to the meat of it.
I’m taking two “courses” per semester. Each course is worth 3 PDPs. The first course is “Writing for Independent Professionals.” The required texts are
Royal is first. During Week 1 (January 21 – 27), the assignment is to read chapters 1-3 and complete all exercises. During week 2 (January 28 – February 3), the assignment is to read chapters 4-5 and complete all exercises. This continues for 10 weeks until I’ve completed the book and all exercises. At the end, I’ll demonstrate mastery of the course’s lessons in some way (haven’t figured that out yet).
On week 11, I start again with Zinsser. Once that’s over, I’ll again take another “final” followed by a 2-week break. Then my 2nd semester begins.
Future courses will stray from grammar, style, structure, etc. and focus on Apple, writing for the web, networking, etc. I’m looking forward to it and I’ll tell you how it goes. And now … time to hit the books!