Teachers enter the education field because it’s a deeply rewarding career that encourages both professional and personal growth.
Professional development for teachers, which is usually mandated by states, helps instructors keep up with the latest tools, technologies, and educational strategies that make education more effective and engaging for students. This post dives into the importance of professional development and how it sets great teachers apart from other instructors.
What is Professional Development for Teachers?
Professional development for teachers can encapsulate many areas. For some teachers, it may be improving their instructional methods and strategies. For others, it might be more about learning new technologies or ways to support students in the classroom.
It can also involve refining one’s practice by reflecting on what works well and what could be improved. At its core, though, professional development for teachers is important because it helps educators continually hone their craft.
When teachers improve their practice, student learning improves right along with it. Let’s look at other reasons why teachers should never, ever stop learning.
Why is Professional Development So Important for Teachers?
“If you’re teaching today what you were teaching five years ago, either the field is dead or you are.” –Noam Chomsky
From new edtech tools to the latest research to shifting student needs, the educational field is never stagnant. It’s not just student teachers who benefit from professional development—seasoned teachers with decades of experience also need to stay current in their field.
Experienced educators still need to know about the latest research on effective instruction and keep up with changes in curriculum standards and the evolving expectations of students and parents as well as the individual culture of each school.
For example, educators have to take into account factors impacting student mental health. Following the pandemic, in particular, the possibility of school shutdowns looms large in most educational institutions, which means that educators have to master the online learning environment. Additionally, school violence is becoming a more prevalent concern at educational institutions in the United States, and many educators are taking steps to familiarize themselves with the proper protocol for emergency situations that involve violence.
The bottom line is, a teacher who is constantly growing and learning thanks to professional development will be able to rely on critical tools and resources to be proactive when it comes to the examples discussed above.
Ways Teachers Can Participate in Professional Development
From in-person workshops to professional development online courses, there’s a variety of learning opportunities for motivated teachers. Possible educational opportunities include webinars, in-person and virtual conferences, mentorship and instructional coach programs.
One of the simpler and more accessible options for busy teachers is professional development courses that take place online. Here are a few benefits teachers can find from learning online:
- Online courses offer the flexibility that in-person courses cannot match.
- You can complete most online courses at your own pace, on your own schedule.
- Online courses usually cost less than traditional in-person courses.
Some professional development for teachers is required by their school district or state and can include attending workshops or classes on topics such as classroom management as well as social and emotional learning.
For example, the New York State Education Department states that “teachers are required to complete 175 hours of professional development every five years.” Moving across the country, the Kentucky Board of Education mandates that a minimum of 4 days each school term be utilized for professional development.
Other times, teachers may be required to complete a certain number of hours of professional development each year to keep their certification current. While some professional development for teachers is mandatory, it is still vital for teachers to seek opportunities to improve their skills even when it’s not required.
Important Areas of Professional Study
When it comes to online professional development for teachers, there are several possible areas of study:
Dealing with Burnout and Chronic Stress
Teachers can quickly become overwhelmed by their work given administrative requirements and staff shortages, leading to burnout. Burnout is a serious condition that not only negatively impacts a teacher’s physical and mental well-being, but makes them less engaging, effective educators.
Fortunately, there are expertly-designed online courses dedicated to spotting and alleviating burnout and chronic stress that can help teachers and administrators support each other. Not only that, but these courses provide strategies for school and system-wide support to mitigate the risks of burnout and chronic stress..
Student Learning and Classroom Success
Perhaps most importantly, professional development for teachers helps them better understand the psychology of learning. This is critical for teachers who are just starting out in their careers and who will benefit from an easy-to-follow course dedicated to the first years of teaching.
To help students achieve their fullest potential, teachers will find it helpful to enroll in courses that help them develop essential classroom management skills. Such expertise will equip instructors to define classroom objectives and develop student expectations and then evaluate their own methods for more effective results.
School Violence Prevention and Intervention
As more schools are dealing with the tragic uptick in violence, it’s becoming increasingly important for teachers to have the skills to prevent and intervene when necessary. Professional development can help teachers learn these critical skills.
Some states, such as New York, mandate school violence prevention training for anyone applying for a teaching certificate in the state. For New York teachers, a well-designed School Violence Prevention & Intervention course will give them the skills to identify potential warning signs of violence and intervention strategies to address situations involving violence in schools.
Evolving Issues of Students with Special Needs
Professional development for teachers is crucial because it helps them improve their handling of special education and evolving student issues and needs. Special education is a field that is constantly changing, and teachers need to be able to keep up with these changes to effectively meet their students’ needs.
Educators based in New York, for example, benefit enormously from a mandatory course designed to address the unique needs of children with autism.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and Section 504 of the US Rehabilitation Act, which provide resources for students with special needs at the K-12 and college levels, are legally binding documents in most states. Failure to follow through can have major consequences on a teacher’s career.
Get Started with Professional Development Classes Today
Professional development for teachers is crucial because it allows them to stay current with best practices, learn new techniques, and develop their skills. It also helps them build their knowledge base and keep up with the latest evidence-based practices
If you’re a teacher looking for highly-rated online professional development courses, take the time to explore #1 Premiere Continuing Education for online courses designed specifically for educators.