P is for Professional Development
If you're in a career where tracking your professional development is advantageous to you, then going digital will simplify that aspect of your life.
As a teacher, I have to keep track of my professional development hours for re-certification.
I've also changed jobs several times, so I've tried to find ways to make updating my resume more efficient.
While I have gone mostly paperless here, I do keep one folder for any original certificates I've received from workshops or classes. I look forward to the day when all certificates will be emailed to participants as pdfs so I don't have to maintain this folder.
Even if you don't have to track professional development hours, though, you may want to keep track of workshops, awards, and any recognition you receive to bolster your resume.
1. Decide on your digital filing cabinet.
Normally, Evernote houses all of my files, but I organize all of my lesson plans and resources in Dropbox, so in keeping like with like, I have a Dropbox folder devoted to my PD.
I'm a folder nester, so within my PD folder, I have several sub-folders:
- Current certificates
- Archived certificates
- Workshop/conference information
- Portfolio Pieces
2. Scan all of certificates and awards.
Any piece of paper that makes you look good gets scanned and collected.
If you don't own or have access to a scanner, find a scanner app for your smartphone or tablet. If you don't have a smartphone, collect a pile of your certificates and head over to an office supply store with a jump drive. They'll scan items for you and load them onto your jump drive.
Use a logical naming system for your certificates. I prefer to lead with the date I received the certificate or hours. Then I include the name of the workshop.
3. Collect workshop/conference information.
Every professional receives an abundance of information about workshops and conferences. When you see an opportunity that looks interesting to you, scan the flyer or pdf the email or webpage.
Keep the information, even if you can't attend that session. Save some time by creating a starting point of PD ideas.
Having a file of professional development opportunities that appeals to you already built makes your life easier.
When you're looking for PD, you merely scan over the opportunities you've curated. Maybe that same class won't be held again, but the organization may have other options that you like.
4. Scan your evaluations.
Any paperwork related to your work performance as evaluated by your supervisor needs to be kept in a safe place.
If I'm concerned about how my supervisor may evaluate me, I'll also keep copies of pertinent emails. As a public employee, I've seen entire email chains disappear because an administrator deemed the topic inappropriate. I wouldn't want important emails about my job security to poof away! I like documentation, as do lawyers.
5. Collect any portfolio pieces.
As a teacher, I keep lesson plans and student writing samples, including the feedback I've given to my students. Fairly consistently, I take pictures of student projects, my bulletin boards, and class activities.
I keep emails and notes from parents and colleagues as well. I like anecdotal evidence of my performance. I find it's effective in showcasing who I am as a professional. Additionally, I've noticed that in an interview most principals won't read my lesson plan, but they'll read the handwritten notes I've got spread throughout my portfolio.
6. Gather any bragging rights.
If you've received any awards or recognition, keep those certificates. If you've published a paper or book, keep an extra copy in this folder.
Keep track of those documents that highlight your core skill set. You'll either want to refer to that information on your resume or place it in your portfolio.
By keeping all of these documents together, you make updating your resume a much quicker process. Likewise, gathering evidence for a salary negotiation is much easier when you have all of these professional development documents together.