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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Professional Development that Fits the Modern Context

When I founded DKG in 1929, the status of women teachers needed attention. Specifically, teachers were underpaid (some things, unfortunately, never change!) and subject to serious limitations on their academic freedom and job security.  They really served at the whim of local administrators and school boards, who dictated their dress and hairstyles, discriminated based on age (over 40? A younger, less expensive teacher could be found to take your place), and dismissed educators for “moral” issues ranging from infrequent church attendance or failure to participate in a local initiative to marriage and pregnancy. Within such a context, support for professional growth and development was certainly not a focus, and DKG’s Purpose 6— To stimulate the personal and professional growth of members and to encourage their participation in appropriate programs of action—took on particularly poignant meaning as I worked to develop an organization that would advance the issues of women educators.

Now, some 80 years later, I can proudly point to a wide variety of programs and efforts that advance Purpose 6—including the upcoming international conferences organized around key educational themes. In particular, as I consider the leadership training opportunities that will be provided to incoming officers and leaders, I am pleased to see an evolution in the delivery of such training from “one shot” of what more recently has been known as “sit and get” to a more extended and interactive format.
  •  By developing pre-training and post-training activities, those providing the on-site training will be able to engage their learners over time, thereby allowing more opportunity for the content to be absorbed and mastered.
  •  By bringing leaders from across the Society together in Iowa, those leading the training will enable greater networking among learners and will have a chance to group participants more meaningfully by the size of their state organizations, membership issues, and other factors that are more meaningful than region.
  •  By bringing leaders from Latin America, Japan, and Europe to sessions tailored to their specific needs and issues, those providing the training will break the “one size fits all” mindset and demonstrate acceptance of the varied DKG experiences.
Good solutions fit their contexts. Just as the development of DKG in 1929 fit the needs of women educators at that time, so too, the evolution of the way we do professional development in DKG must evolve to fit the needs of women educators today. Such evolution is what keeps us forward moving ever.

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