Have you ever heard the expression, “Steel sharpens steel?” It may sound like a line from the Game of Thrones, but it means to engage in an ongoing effort to hone one’s skills and abilities in order to remain masterful. The same can be said for Professional Development for teachers. Ongoing Professional Development is critical for teachers who wish to be great at their jobs and offer the best to their students each day.
Why Professional Development Matters
Professional Development is important because education is an ever-growing, ever-changing field. This is why districts and schools require some form of professional development, whether online or in a classroom, so teachers can enhance their teaching or learning environment, and since technology is a huge part of learning, it’s easy to understand why developing new skills with applications, platforms, and other technologies is essential to keep current with their students.
Indeed, Education requires teachers to be lifelong learners to teach and reach new groups of students, and become adept at integrating new techniques and technologies into the learning environment.
Professional Development not only allows teachers to learn new teaching styles, techniques, but also, and perhaps most important in this digital age, to learn to automate routine forms, collect data, quickly share communications with other teachers across districts, and more.
Ongoing professional development helps teachers become even greater at their jobs and offer the best to their students each day. Typically, professional development is offered in either short workshops that introduce new topics or more in-depth workshops are taught over time and involve hands-on activities and interaction, which are often the most effective. The reasons teachers participate in professional development can be to:
- Take a deeper dive into the resources that a school district provides
- Learn how to use a mix of digital/print resources and social media
- Keep current on new technologies used in schools and districts
- Access the latest research about the subject areas you teach
- Develop new learning resources to meet your students’ needs
- Use other materials, resources, or strategies needed to support students’ accessing the course content
- Look outside of the district-provided materials to support students not only academically, but also socially and emotionally.
Additionally, there are a number of online professional development resources that train teachers how to integrate new technologies into their classes, such as learning new district technology platforms, new applications, integrating social media such as YouTube, blogs, Twitter, or digitizing and sharing lesson plans, rubrics, and students’ work.
Common Professional Development Workshops
There are endless professional development opportunities for teachers, ranging from day workshops to multi-day seminars delivered online, in podcasts, on YouTube, or blogs but also f2f classroom workshops. Popular topics for Professional Development workshops include but are not limited to:
- Common Core State Standards
- New Technologies in the school/district
- Closing the Achievement Gap
- Guided / Leveled Reading
- Early Childhood and Family Engagement.
Professional Development enhances a teacher’s toolbox of skills, and resources and sharpens the art of masterfully delivering a quality educational experience.