Thursday, January 2, 2014


Why teachers need Professional Development

A recent chance at professional development online
I am a HUGE fan of webinars, seminars, videos, journals, books and blogs. I find anything that  helps me  become a better teacher is a great use of my time. That's why this guest blog post written by Matthew Engels about why professional development is key for teachers.

An essential component of being a successful professional in any field is to continue with formal education and professional development courses. For those in the teaching profession, being able to continue with their professional development carries additional importance as they help shape the minds of the future. Failure to further enrich one’s knowledge as a teacher may negatively impact students who deserve to experience learning from the most up-to-date teacher and the most current material.

On the flip side, given the importance of professional development for teachers, it is very important that opportunities to engage in learning are abundant and enjoyable so improving one’s knowledge and technique is seen as an opportunity and not a burdensome task.

Professional development from my school
Formal and Informal Professional DevelopmentFor virtually all fields, one can separate learning opportunities between formal and informal with the former being delivered in structured settings and in an organized fashion. Formal professional development events are usually hosted by a school or other relevant educational organization. They tend to be presented as seminars, conferences, break-out sessions and sit-down classes. There is an overarching theme to each formal session which may focus on the material being taught, or on teaching techniques for reaching the student. Similarly, they may be more focused on behavioral issues or the results of educational research.
Formal professional development sessions are also a vehicle to deliver new curriculum requirements to a cadre of teachers simultaneously. It gives attendees the opportunity to step outside their daily routines and explore new trends, as well as network with colleagues to create a web of support should the need arise. Fostering relationships between teachers is always beneficial as they can share best practices and challenges with each other and gain insight from each person’s experience.

A teacher getting to know her student
Learning through Informal EducationAs explained above, there is also great value to gaining professional development through informal settings. Successful teachers are usually so enmeshed in their positions that virtually every experience is a source of information to improve their teaching. The best teachers look to incorporating everyday experiences into their teaching persona and improving their techniques and results as a consequence.
In practice, informal learning opportunities can be found by reviewing research and literature authored by field experts. Other teachers may decide to take a more active part in their enrichment by participating in research projects or experimenting on their own. Those that constantly seek ways to improve their technique and the material they are teaching are the most successful. A discouraged or disinterested teacher puts its students at risk by teaching outdated material, or failing to utilize techniques that will optimize how receptive students are to learning new things. This in turn translates into a student that is less ready to interact with the outside world and is at a disadvantage. Getting to know one’s students is an essential part to informal professional development. Learning about each student’s learning style allows the teacher to tailor his or her lesson plans to suit the class and yield increased understanding.

Professional development in teachers is very important. It is often what keeps the teacher engaged with his profession and engaging to his students. Personal and professional growth and development sets a great example for the students and sets the stage for a wonderful and well-rounded education.

This article was written by Matthew Engels, who believes that professional development for teachers keeps them on their toes and helps them learn new ways to keep students engaged in class.

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