How Do You Fill Yourself?


How do you fill yourself professionally? (Not personally.. although I could do a whole post also on making sure you’re taking the time for yourself – through bubble baths, exercise and eating right.) This post is all about filling yourself professionally and some of my most favorite ways!

Do you even think about how you take care of your professional self? Your professional soul? I know, I know, we already sit through tons of meetings that should’ve been an email and through PD that might not be relevant to us. But how often are you CHOOSING to engage in professionally R&R?

I, for one, am all about it and I’m about to share with you my favorite ways.

Professional Conferences

These are amazing events put on by organizations all over the country. I try hard to get to at least 2 a year, trying to expand to 3!

I go to my state Art Ed conference (Massachusetts Art Educators Association) in the fall and presented last year and will present twice (!) this fall. I think presenting at conferences as well as attending is vital to your professional soul. I also have been going to the National Conference in the spring – this one is normally quite a brain overload where it takes me months to process, but again this is so worthwhile. This summer I attended a CAST Universal Design for Learning Symposium with a focus on Social Justice. This is going to be my 3rd go-to conference of the year. Although I love to network with other art educators, getting outside the “art box” and spending time with other educators, administrators and non profits really pushed my own learning and understanding.

Educator Bookclub

I’ve belonged to an educator bookclub for 4 years now. This started as a group of Art teachers in the district who wanted to read more. It’s turned out to be a really powerful group of educators (we’ve expanded outside of “just” art!) who are reading current, relevant books. We have rich discussion and ask each other tons of questions. This might be the most powerful form of professional soul nourishment I partake in. The books we choose have changed my teaching for the better and the group really works well together! Some of the books we’ve read are: The Speed of TrustBroad StrokesMake It StickOriginalsThe End of AverageTeaching with Poverty in Mind and so many others. Currently we are reading For White Folks who Teach in the Hood which is pretty incredible. Although we are a “bookclub”, we are expanding our ways of receiving the information so we can include more educators – so along with the option to read the book, we also have a tedtalk and the audio option. We are framing our conversations with some questions too. I love how this has evolved.

Un-Conferences or One Day Conferences

The “un-conferences” or one day conferences or workshops can be the shot in the arm we need sometimes. Although going to a 3 day or full week professional conference would be amazing – oftentimes it’s just not feasible or you need something NOW. These are oftentimes coordinated by like minded educators or a smaller organization. I went to a great TAB Un-Conference a few years ago in a TAB educators classroom – we basically created the framework for the day on the spot based on what we needed. It was pretty awesome. I also went to a great Social Justice Workshop this past weekend at Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project. It was a one day conference that was exactly what I needed. (oftentimes these events are FREEEEE! which is even more exciting!)

Twitter and Twitter Chats

This might seem a bit unconventional if you aren’t already on twitter, but for me this is my daily dose of advice or educational humor. I follow VERY specific educators and then basically follow who they follow. I curate in a specific way so I get the information I want and need. I don’t follow folks who complain a lot or blame kids – if I see this, I unfollow. There are incredible educators out there that share a ton of stuff. And you don’t need to worry that you don’t know how to “tweet” just yet. You can totally be a consumer. Then when you’re ready, start liking stuff….then start posting and sharing. There are great twitter chats like #K12artchat and #techchat and #udlchat and..and..and… there’s literally a chat out there for everyone. I can’t normally stay up late enough to participate but I check out the hashtag the following morning and see what transpired. I follow a lot of people on twitter and it is a great way to connect – you never know who you might find or connect with! I found out about the Social Justice Workshop last weekend from someone I follow on twitter – then drove to NYC and spent the afternoon with the educator! Sounds totally nutty, but a great connection was made through twitter!

Share Your Professional Passion!

Start your own blog! Write a proposal to present at a conference! Organize your own un-conference! Organize a PD in your building or district! Mentor a new teacher!

These things truly fill my professional soul in all the ways. When I start to feel grey, I look to these to help fill me up. If I’m not learning, then I can’t model the learning struggle for students. I want to continually fill myself in order to be the best I can for my kids. Don’t you want that too?

How will you fill yourself? If these things seem too scary… just figure out what your professional passion actually is and begin to journal or create based on it – then get sharing!!

1 thought on “How Do You Fill Yourself?

  1. This is excellent Liz! I too think conferences and presenting help envigoratey practice and make me more reflective with my teaching!

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