We all know that teaching is a profession that truly is a calling. Teachers who stay in the profession for a long-time care deeply about the students and the subject they are teaching. I know, I was in the classroom for over 33 years. We also know that the demands on teachers have increased greatly over recent years. Here in Indiana, this year is especially hard on teachers with a completely new set of academic standards that were adopted in June. There are new high-stake assessments being put into place like the I-READ, PSAT and SAT Assessments. Therein lies the problem. Teachers for the most part are “Givers” and “Pleasers”! They give of themselves to their students, to their school, to their careers! They try, with every ounce of their being, to do their very best when working with their students and teaching their subject. The problem is they do so much for others they frequently forget to do for themselves.
Teaching can become an all-consuming profession if one is not careful. Between preparing for the lessons, grading, recording, writing quizzes and tests, and the duties teachers work, they are constantly giving of themselves. When do they have time to do something for themselves? How do they rejuvenate and recharge their passion for the profession they love? One of the answers is quality professional development! Professional development that not only presents ideas and ways the teacher can grow and improve, but also gives them the resources to do just that.
Quality Professional Development
Quality professional development does NOT tell the teachers exactly what to do, but models what can be done and lets the teachers experience the ideas and concepts for themselves. Quality professional development provides resources and materials where teachers can try and integrate the ideas and concepts that have been presented. Quality professional development uses good researched based materials and resources that have been proven to be successful. Too many times, teacher professional development is centered around the latest trends or fads and not on proven and successful methods. Good quality professional development needs to be given by licensed teachers who have taught in the classroom and understand the needs, limitations, and challenges that surround teaching in the classroom.
Many Forms of Quality Professional Development
There can be many forms of quality professional development. It can be a book study done over a period of weeks. It can be short meetings done throughout the day or for an hour after school. It can be done as a half day in the morning and a different group in the afternoon. However professional development is done, for it to be well received and implemented by the teachers there must be some key components. First and most importantly, it must be applicable to the teachers who are attending. It must be something that teachers can see themselves implementing in their classroom! It must be useful for the teacher in some way. It can either save them time or effort for what they are already doing. Finally, there must be resources and materials provided for the teachers to use to accomplish the ideas or concepts being presented.
When I go out for a professional development for teachers, I always start with the statement, “If I do not provide you with at least 3 ideas, resources, or materials you can use in your classroom with your students in the next couple of weeks, I should have just emailed you this information!” So far when I ask for teacher feedback, and I asked if I accomplished what I said I would do, I have received a resounding yes from all who have replied!
Many Mays to Facilitate Quality Professional Development
There are many ways you can facilitate good quality professional development. It can be a book study, it can be a large group on a e-Learning Day, it can be given to small groups throughout the day as teachers are available, it can be an online meeting after school, it does not matter how the professional development is given. What is important is that teachers are getting ideas, resources, and materials that will expose them to best teaching practices, save them time and effort, and be good sound research-based ideas and concepts. This is how districts and schools can invest in their teachers! This allows the teachers to not always be giving but to receive. Good quality professional development help to rejuvenate and assist teachers to do the best possible with their students and the lessons they are teaching.
Support from Administrators
If teachers feel supported by their administrators, teachers will stay longer in the profession and do a much better job with their students and their teaching. Teachers must continue to grow and learn how to improve their skills for them to be successful and to prosper in what they are doing. Administrators must assure that their teachers have the resources and materials for them to continue to expand their knowledge and skills in the classroom. Not only does good quality professional development help teachers accomplish their goals it also helps them renew their teaching license and feel better about their jobs. My question for anyone who is reading this blog; “What good quality professional development have you participated in lately, and what good quality professional development has been provided to you to attend?”