Composing a teaching-specific Individual Development Plan (IDP)
Individual Development Plan (IDP) Overview
An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a professional development tool used to help an individual identify strengths and areas for growth, and set attainable goals. The IDP has been used for many years as a career planning tool in industry, government work, and K-12 education. Recently, graduate students and postdoctoral appointees have been encouraged to use IDPs as a professional development tool which will help prepare them for future academic and non-academic careers. The IDP process is a useful way to have intentional conversations with your mentor/advisor about career interests, skill building, and planning for your future throughout your time at Washington University.
There are many different IDP structures that have been developed for graduate students and postdocs. The IDP templates vary in in focus and structure depending on discipline or purpose. It is important to think about what you want to get out of the IDP experience and find an IDP tool that can benefit you the most.
As part of the EPIC program at WashU, participants complete what we call a TDP: a teaching-focused individual development plan. In this plan, students reflect on their teaching strengths and areas for growth and identify near-term and long-term goals associated with their development as teachers. The stages of preparing to and writing the TDP follow along the general stages for writing an IDP as outlined below.
Creating an TDP
While all IDP/TDP forms have a slightly different structure, the process of reflection and implementation remains similiar:
Assess skills and areas for growth.
Consider what skills are useful for your career goals.
Be honest about your current abilities and what you need to work on to be successful in your career goals.
Talk to mentors, advisors, colleagues, and friends to help you identify your skills and what areas for growth you need to gain proficiency in.
Each IDP format has a different way of conducting a skills assessment (i.e. readiness assessment, online survey, questions to consider) choose an IDP with a skills assessment that fits your individual needs.
Write your Plan.
Be intentional in writing your plan to ensure that your goals are realistic and attainable within the time frame you have set.
Give yourself deadlines and stick to them.
Once you have identified the areas and skills you would like to work on, reach out to friends, colleagues, and mentors, and explore online and campus resources to help you identify the specific strategies for attaining your goals.
Discuss with your mentor(s).
Decide who to share your development plan with. Remember, this is a personal document used for YOU to set, track, and document your professional development progress. As such, it is up to you to determine who you discuss this document with. You can share the entire document with your mentor(s) or only share the portion you feel that mentor will be helpful with.
Make sure that your mentor is aware of the purpose of an IDP before you discuss it with them. This will help them understand the benefits and expectations of the IDP and your corresponding conversations. You can direct them to this website or any of the resources below for descriptions of the purpose of an IDP.
Make sure you and your mentor(s)/advisor are on the same page. IDPs can be useful ways to ensure you and your mentor(s)/advisor have the same expectations, goals, and desires for your graduate or postdoctoral experience.
Reflect on goals and accomplishments and revise the Plan.
Set aside time each semester or year to celebrate your accomplishments and think about what obstacles you encountered that may have prevented you from completing specific tasks. An IDP is a living document. It will grow, change, and evolve throughout your graduate or postdoctoral life at Washington University.
Once you have reflected on your IDP, consider what areas you want to improve in next. These areas can be the same or different from those set in your previous IDPs.
As you revise your IDP, remember what you have learned about setting attainable goals, your career goals, and personal growth since you wrote your first IDP.
When you are ready, share your revised version with your mentor(s). This can allow you to have a conversation about successes, obstacles, and shared goals for your growth throughout the next semester or year.
Example IDPs from Across the Academy
Below you will find links to a few IDP structures that have been developed for different graduate student and postdoctoral audiences.