Professional Growth

My oh my, how the year has progressed!  The year is not over yet (see blog on #lastbell) but it is time to start reflecting, assessing, and re-calibrating our focus to get ready for next year.  As I was doing the aforementioned activities, some interesting thoughts emerged.

We set goals as a district and as an administrative team in the early fall of 2015.  My goals did not sit on a shelf.  They were living, breathing, actionable tasks that had meaning…up until about January.  Then Twitter, Voxer, and the #compelledtribe came along, all as a result of attending the NJ TECHSPO conference.  I can literally identify WHEN things changed for me.

This is powerful as an educator.  When I look back and read the goals that I established for myself, I can track progress for the beginning of the year.  But now, as I look back, they seem to be written by a completely different person.  As I reflect on them with a critical lense, the first thoughts that comes to my mind are, “Really?  That’s it?”  Then, “Where is the evidence? Where is the authenticity?  Where is the innovation?”

In just a few shorts months I have learned so much and grown in ways I could not have imagined.  For a busy administrator, I find myself reading articles and sharing them with my staff on a regular basis.  I have engaged with teachers and administrators on a more personal level than ever before.  I have implemented daily leadership actions in my office as a result of Twitter chats (#CelebrateMonday, #cowbellTuesday, #YouMatterWednesday, #HighFiveThursday, #FunFriday).  The best part is that my staff is starting to implement daily leadership actions of their own!

I listen and respond to questions of the day on Voxer from Compelled Tribe members and Women in Leadership groups. Their words of inspiration, ideas, and suggestions fuel my energetic passion for improvement in our schools.  I actively participated in my first EdCamp and plan on using this model in my district.  I am currently creating a book study on Twitter for the administrative team then will attempt one in the fall for the entire staff. I will also be implementing Twitter challenges and have begun reinforcing how important it is to teach to the last bell.  As a result of a fascination with maker education, we visited local schools and are ready to implement programs for the 2016-2017 school year and beyond.

I have demonstrated growth in the areas of:

  • implementing innovative practices in my district
  • using social media to connect educators
  • inspiring my staff
  • providing educational resources in the areas of maker education, leadership, literacy, utilizing podcasts in the ELA classroom, assessment of instructional practices, and multicultural awareness
  • motivating teachers and administrators to improve communication (by modeling it), and to follow through on all district/school initiatives
  • improved writing skills
  • collaboration with educators from across the country and around the world

None of these items were outlined in my goals that I set in the early fall of 2015.  They just happened…

All of the above-mentioned items were areas of growth that I sought on my own and thoroughly enjoyed.

Other than the NJ TechSpo Conference, NONE of the professional growth activities above cost the district Board of Education a dime.

I could not be more grateful for the opportunities provided for me as Superintendent of Schools in Barnegat, NJ.  I work with an amazing staff and collaborative administrative team in a supportive community.  Professional Growth is what you make it.  Make yours meaningful, fun, and fabulous!


Author: karenwoodedu

Karen Wood is the Superintendent of Schools in Barnegat, NJ. With twenty-three years in education, Ms. Wood's career has been spent primarily in administration. She enjoys mentoring novice administrators and being connected to inspirational educators and leaders across the country.

3 thoughts on “Professional Growth”

  1. Karen,

    What a great example you have set in taking charge of your own professional growth and development! Your modeling will lead others to do the same. Keep it up!



  2. Karen, this post is such a terrific testimony to the power of having an online PLN. It sounds like as a results of connecting with educators online, you are now connecting MORE with your teachers and administrators and on a more personal level. Sometimes people wonder how a busy person can continue to learn and find learning opportunities. The value is in being able to do it asynchronously. The ironic thing is… the more you connect the more you want to connect, and like everything in life that’s important to us, we make more time for it. I love connecting with you and hearing your perspective as a superintendent. It’s so inspiring to know how you are learning and growing and sharing that with your district. Thank you for demonstrating true leadership!


  3. Karen – It is great to see how much you have grown professionally since October 2015. I remember you were asking very simple questions about Twitter. Now you are participating in various chat forums and leading PD initiatives in your district and across various social media platforms. Your district staff and administration are truly fortunate to work with someone as inspiring as you. Continue being a great leader for the purpose of building the professional capacity of adults for the sake of increasing student learning.


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