Posted December 28, 2016 – AWE Learning Staff
As academic standards evolve, curricula are revised, and digital learning resources are integrated, it is important for educators to develop their teaching skills via professional development. With limited time available, educators face the need to balance professional development with what will be most helpful for their students to excel.
Professional learning is defined by the link between teachers’ individual skills and the contribution they make to their classroom. Dennis Van Roekel, president of National Education Association (NEA), said, “To promote and nurture effective teaching, the profession should offer quality training, well designed career paths, time to work together on the best ways to help students, quality evaluations that help teachers in their development, professional development based on identified needs, and fair accountability processes.”
Professional development gives educators an opportunity to evaluate their teaching strategies and goals, and develop skills that will empower them to lead a successful classroom of young learners. According to Gryphon House, there are some key questions that teachers can consider when planning professional development:
- What do I want to happen in my classroom? This could include a safe environment, noise level, amount of student collaboration, use of digital learning resources, etc.
- What are my goals? This could include the amount of communication with students’ families or other teachers, methods of communication, etc.
- How do I want the children to feel? For example, should the students feel they can make mistakes in the classroom?
The classroom, resources, and teaching strategies are constantly changing. Curriculum focus now includes STREAM content to meet the needs of our technologically savvy community and prepare young learners for the future. Teachers must be prepared to meet the needs of their students to effectively instruct the curriculum. Allocating time for training allows teachers to collaborate on their teaching practices to further their career development and success in the classroom.
Educators are able to identify their own strengths, weaknesses, and personal goals as part of their professional development plan. This approach allows teachers to further develop their teaching skills, as well as their subject knowledge. Furthermore, the results improve the quality of instruction and enhance student learning. According to Powerful Learning Practice, there are a variety of characteristics that teachers want in professional development:
- Voice and choice in the professional development offered
- Topics and strategies that are relevant for their students
- Opportunity to implement the content learned immediately
- Training conducted by professionals with classroom experience
- Training that is innovative and creative
- Professional development that makes them better teachers
- Professional development that is practical and theoretical
- Opportunity to collaborate with others and speak honestly
- Professional development that will be relevant for a long time
- Administration participation
Teachers can be encouraged to participate in professional development opportunities in order to grow their subject knowledge and enhance their teaching practices. This will not only benefit their classroom management and instruction, but it will also lead to a classroom where young learners are set up to excel.