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Learn It or Lose It

austin-pacheco-683132-unsplashSo, what did you learn this summer?

With school buses already back on the streets — not everywhere, but they’re coming! — it’s the perfect time to check in on learning.

Let’s face it: If you’re not learning, you’re losing.

While there are plenty of other factors, this is one of the main reasons why so many school districts are considering or even implementing year-round schedules, spread-out seasonal breaks, and other alternative calendars.

For kids, there are summer camps, enrichment courses, internships, volunteering, private lessons — but what about for adults?

As an individual, do you take it upon yourself to continue your education? Of course, education doesn’t need to mean a degree or formal courses. Maybe you’ve decided to take up an instrument, learn how CPR is really supposed to work, improve your cooking skills, perfect the fine art of whatever — it’s your thing! (Plus, if you’re looking for inspiration, the internet has plenty of suggestions!)

Most organizations recognize the value of professional development. Sometimes, it’s simply a part of the job. As a classroom teacher, for example, I was required to earn continuing education or graduate credits to maintain my certification. Earning a credential is a built-in educational requirement for many positions, whether it’s a certificate or a degree, and these requirements are set up with the understanding that learning must continue. Teachers need to continue to learn, or they won’t be able to do their jobs well. Human Resources professionals must maintain certification to keep up with their evolving roles in the workplace. The list goes on. Really, every position benefits from professional development, and some formalize the importance of this benefit by making it a requirement. More formal education often means a bump on the pay scale, and better skills mean promotions. It adds up!

If you’re running training and development programs in your organization, consider starting the year with a training needs inventory to identify target areas for improvement. As you run programs, conduct course evaluations to make sure your participants are getting what they need.

If you find yourself in a field that doesn’t require continuing education or in an organization that doesn’t value professional development, you might just take matters into your own hands. It doesn’t have to be New Years — or the start of school — to set a resolution. Today, in fact, might just be the perfect day.