Ever wonder how you’re going to fund your professional development or professional learning opportunities? I’ve been in your shoes. I’ve been given the full amount, I’ve been given partial funding, and I’ve been completely shut down and turned away.
This dilemma can be very frustrating because you genuinely want to learn and grow as a professional, but the cost, time, motivation, and teaching topic all have to perfectly align for you to jump at the right opportunity!
Here are 4 things I’ve learned about finding money for your own professional development opportunities.
1- Educate your administrators about what you do as a school counselor.
Educating your administrators is one of the formative steps in getting them on your team for anything and everything! They need to understand your role, what you do in the school, and why students are different because of what you do.
Consider some ideas to incorporate this type of education for your administrators into your school counseling programming early on in the school year. Invite an administrator to be on your school counseling advisory council. Is there one administrator in particular who knows the least about what you do? Or maybe there is one administrator who is particularly influential, and it would benefit you to have them fully understand what types of programs you run and see the data you’re sharing that can impact the school as a whole.
Do a presentation for your teachers and your administrators, and consider doing these presentations separately in order to speak to their unique roles. (Here is a presentation I use.)
If your administrators know your program goals and understand what you hope to do and accomplish, they are more likely to get on board with your vision for your own role. When an opportunity comes up for you to grow or learn how to do your role better, more efficiently, or more enjoyably, they will do what they can to support you in this.
2- Ask early, and don’t stop asking.
One of the reasons I’ve been turned down when I asked for monetary support for a professional opportunity, I was told it was because I didn’t ask soon enough. I was told the money was already accounted for and that I should have asked sooner.
In my mind, it never felt like the right time to ask. Looking back, I would have made it a higher priority on my list, and I would have been more bold and more confident when I asked. I also would have been more relentless and continued to ask. The worst they can say is, “no.”
If you’re the first person to ask or you’re the most persistent, then you will be the employee that they think of when it’s time to give out money for professional development or professional learning opportunities.
Figure out when the best time of year is to advocate for getting money. At some schools, it’s the start of the fiscal year, and, for others, it’s the start of the school year.
3- Be prepared when you ask.
If there is a timeline, calendar, or procedure for receiving professional development money, be sure to follow all instructions carefully and completely.
Have something professional drafted up to send to them and to hand to them describing exactly what you’re hoping to spend the money on.
Show your administrators (or whoever gives out that money) what you are going to learn inside the course or training. Show them how it will benefit your school counseling program, your school, your students, and yourself.
4- Draft a letter to your administrator or district for funding.
ASCA uses a fillable justification letter for advocating for a big cost conference like attending the national school counseling conference in-person (where registration alone is $429 and then consider travel costs, hotel stays, transportation, and food).
Come up with something like this if you’re hoping to gain monetary support from your administrator or your district. Send an email, schedule an in-person meeting, and hand them something to read and take with them.
Don’t get discouraged if they don’t give you any money or all of the money right away. Keep asking. Ask what could help you get even a portion of it next time.
Get your name on the waitlist for the Clique Collaborative, a high school membership community. You’ll be the first to hear when doors open next!