What is Professional Development for Teachers?
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Professional development is a requirement for all teachers. Each school or district sets the required number of professional development hours for each year, or over the course of several years. Professional development is some form of education for teachers that can enhance or better their teaching or classroom environment. Some professional development workshops are an hour or two, while others may be a week long. Some classes can also be counted toward professional development hours as approved by the board of education. These workshops or clinics are most effective when they are in the teacher's subject area. However, teachers can learn overall strategies for classroom management or reading comprehension that can benefit any topic in any age group.
Why is Teacher Professional Development Needed?
Ongoing Development for Teachers
Professional development is important because education is an ever growing, ever changing field. This means that teachers must be lifelong learners in order to teach each new group of students. Professional development not only allows teachers to learn new teaching styles, techniques, and tips, but also interact with educators from other areas in order to improve their own teaching. Though some short workshops are effective in introducing new topics, the most effective workshops are taught over time and involve hands on activities and interaction. This also allows for more questions and discussions to occur throughout the presentations. Ongoing professional development is critical for teachers who wish to be great at their jobs and offer the best to their students each day.
New Strategies for Educators
Any professional development opportunity should be something that will benefit the students and teacher through new strategies, techniques, or tips that can be utilized in the classroom or community. Professional development can be highly beneficial if what is learned is then utilized to further the education of students. Typically, those professional development opportunities that are multi-day and require interaction among and between attendees are the most useful. Teachers, much like students, tend to learn better is hands on activities are used.
Online Professional Development for Teachers
Professional development is both a requirement and opportunity for teachers at every level and in every subject. There are a variety of options available to fulfill these requirements. Some of these opportunities are offered online through county Board of Education offices or in many cases, through colleges that also offer education degrees at the Bachelor's, Master's, and/or Doctoral levels. Online professional development can be paid or free, depending on the program. Professional development courses may require assignments or collaboration tasks, just as a college class might require. Professional development opportunities should be well defined and related to something that can be functional in the classroom. Many PD's culminate with a certificate of completion.
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Common Professional Development Workshops
There are a myriad of professional development opportunities for teachers, from one day workshops to multi-day seminars. The following are common and popular areas for professional development workshops.
Common Core State Standards
Typically taught in separate sessions to administrators and teachers, sessions on Common Core standards help each group understand the purpose and usefulness of such standards. These types of workshops also answer questions related to the interpretation of specific standards in addition to offering strategies for implementing the teaching of some content area standards,
Assessment and Evaluation
A professional development course, weekend, or single session on assessment and evaluation will offer educators and administrators new and innovative ways to assess students in a variety of content areas. Not all assessment needs to be paper and pencil based. In fact, there are a variety of assessments from performance tasks to informal and formal. Some assessment and evaluation professional development sessions will focus on specific forms of assessment that will be required for the upcoming school year, but most will share a variety of forms in which assessment can be used to evaluate and redirect learning when needed.
Meeting the individual needs of every student can be an overwhelming job, but one that is expected and challenging. This type of professional development offers support for teachers as they group and manage data, work with students on varying levels, and creating and managing levels.
Closing the Achievement Gap
Some students come into the classroom at a disadvantage. This has been a well researched and well documented fact. However, teachers are required to work toward closing that achievement gap for all students. Culturally relevant pedagogy and the integration of visual and performing arts can play a factor in helping to close the achievement gap. This workshop will offer strategies and real life situations in which the achievement gap can be closed throughout the school year.
Early Childhood and Family Engagement
This professional development opportunity will give early childhood educators tools to help in the classroom or home environment. In addition to sharing strategies for teaching the foundations in reading, writing, and math, strategies in engaging families and community members in the classroom and at home are shared.
Guided reading has been around for a number of years. Whether you are just beginning to use the strategy or need new ideas to enhance your current instruction, this type of professional development will be helpful. Strategies and options to help make educators strong(er) in the realm of guided or leveled reading will be given.
Independent Reading Practices
Getting students to read and find a love of reading can be a challenging task. This professional development opportunity will help educators to learn how to grow classroom libraries and engage students in the act of reading and comprehension while reading on their own.
Nonfiction/Content Area Reading
Real world reading is most often informational in nature. Workshops such as these offer teaching strategies that use nonfiction writing and texts to build background knowledge and vocabulary through scaffolding content area instructions. This professional development opportunity also helps teachers to foster inquiry and 21st century thinking skills through the use of different teaching techniques.
Adolescent readers and writers are often reluctant to take part in reading based activities. This professional development workshop will teach teachers how to foster a classroom community of readers and writers who use critical discussions, mentor texts, and mediation. Strategies to re-engage males at this level will also be shared.
This multi-day format retreat offers professional development for teachers who want to help students become better readers of both fiction and non-fiction. In addition, teachers will be taught to foster critical and creative thinking skills in students at various levels. The workshop offers a look into how teachers can create the global citizens that our current students must be in their adult lives.
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