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Today’s world can be a challenge for every educator. Technology, best teaching practices and students’ needs are always evolving. One way to help educators stay on top of these changes is professional development. This type of continuing education is beneficial to both teachers and their students.

Defining Professional Development

Professional development may sound like a vague term and can refer to a variety of things. For educators, Professional development may include a variety of methods, including the following:

  • Meetings with colleagues for the purpose of discussing issues and creating solutions.
  • Teaching conferences or seminars
  • In-depth workshops
  • Teacher Retreats where you learn hands-on applications of new techniques
  • Graduate level courses
  • Online workshops or courses
  • Educators may also participate in individual research or study

Whatever the method, the aim is generally the same – helping teachers improve their skills in order to better teach their students.

How It Helps

It’s not just educators who benefit from professional development. A study by the United States’ Institute of Education Sciences found that among students who had a teacher involved in professional development, academic achievement improved by 21 percentage points. Here are just a few ways professional development can help:

  • Teaching is a skill, and skills can always be improved. Professional development gives educators a chance to hone their skillsets via many avenues, such as attending workshops or receiving feedback from other teachers in a community of learners.
  • Professional development can help teachers stay on top of changes in many areas.
    • There are always new technologies being devised for classrooms, and teachers must understand how to use them.
    • Job markets and fields of study are constantly evolving, and teachers must keep their knowledge up to date in order to keep their curricula current.
    • Current research on students’ social-emotional learning is important for teachers to understand.
    • Even our understanding of how the human brain learns is always improving, and teachers should take advantage of this information.
  • Educators may learn how to better manage work time spent away from students, such as grading and course or curriculum development.
  • Teacher professional development will even help provide a break from routine, allowing the educator to switch focus for a while and later return to teaching with a fresh outlook.  This is important for teacher self-care!

The Big Picture

While it is sometimes thought of as inconvenient or unnecessary by parents or even the educator, the facts show that professional development is an asset to both a student’s education and a teacher’s career. It is essential that schools and educators devote the time and funding necessary to make professional development a priority!

Teachers deserve it!

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