Joe Zlatnik is an 8th Grade American History teacher at Basehor-Lindwood USD 458.
“I am as happy no where else and in no other society,” Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “and all my wishes end, where I hope my days will end, at Monticello.”
Professional development opportunities, when relegated to our buildings, is often dull, not specific to our content, and, worst of all, uninspiring. Fortunately, there are a number of quality professional development opportunities for Social Studies teachers that will significantly impact us as educators. Coming up in November is the Kansas Council for the Social Studies Conference in Salina. The next month, the National Council for the Social Studies will have their annual conference in Washington D.C. While both of these are great opportunities to learn from some of the brightest minds in our profession, there are other professional development opportunities that are impactful on a more personal level.
The following is a guest post from Doing Social Studies contributor Joe Zlatnik, an 8th grade Social Studies teacher at Basehor-Linwood Middle School
Professional development, for most of us, occurs in our own building and districts, and, in my experience, is not usually planned with social studies teachers in mind. The professional development I have been involved with is usually very general and is rarely specific to what I teach. While this is unfortunate, the burden on school administrators planning professional development opportunities is understandable. STEM subjects and reading are the major priorities of the state of Kansas, and school districts follow suit. Considering the shrinking budgets across the state, there is less and less available for content-specific professional development, especially for Social Studies teachers.
While this is certainly a disappointing reality, there are incredible opportunities available for those who seek them out. Conferences, such as KCSS and NCSS, are great opportunities to network and learn from some of the best Social Studies teachers from around the state and country. There are also a number of opportunities available during the summer for teachers who seek to grow as a professional.
Last month, I had the incredible opportunity to take part in the George Washington Teacher Institute at the our first President’s beloved estate, Mt. Vernon. This five-day, four-night residential professional development program focused on the leadership and legacy of George Washington, and the lessons that we can derive from him and his experiences. Dr. Denver Brunsman of George Washington University led the institute. We also had opportunities to collaborate with Mt. Vernon’s historians, curators, educational experts, and the fellow teachers taking part in the institute.