We are all surrounded by a plethora of caregivers who guide us through our daily lives. However, there are some who assist us from the time we are children, and they are none other than our teachers. They teach us important lessons in morality and good practices. It is because of them, the society is what it is today - independent and cultural. Thus, when we speak of professional development why should teachers be felt behind? They are the building blocks of our society, they have an immense responsibility in terms of not only handling an increasingly multicultural group of students but also have to place a greater emphasis on integrating students with special learning needs into their classrooms, and to make optimum use of information and communication technologies into teaching; all these factors make professional development for teachers essential.
Any form of continuing education effort for educators is referred to as teacher professional development. It's a vital tool for teachers to hone their skills and, as a result, improve student performance.
Learning can occur in both formal and informal settings. Conferences, courses, seminars, retreats, teacher training sessions, and workshops are examples of formal settings. Informal learning for teachers includes conducting independent research or investigation, participating in peer learning initiatives, or simply conversing with a co-educator in the teacher's lounge.
What Difference Does it Make?
Innovative approaches and techniques of imparting education are constantly being researched, and our understanding of how to best educate students is also changing. Because of the fast-changing technology and increasing globalization of the twenty-first century, best practices from several years ago no longer apply nor do they appeal to the students.
Learning and development is an ongoing process. It does not end with obtaining a degree and beginning a career. Career-minded individuals can constantly enhance their skills and become more competent at their jobs by participating in continuing education.
The following factors further highlight the importance of teacher training and professional development:-
- Opens new learning avenues for students
It goes without saying that teachers who are constantly evolving and learning become better educators and do a better job at teaching the students. Continuous learning opportunities not only help in the career advancement of the teachers but also open up new learning avenues for the students as teachers are able to introduce them to new forms of learning and are able to respond to their needs efficiently.
- Improves teachers’ confidence
When the teachers have a better grasp of the subject and methods of teaching, they exude more confidence. Effective professional development assists teachers in shaping their students' lifelong learning.
- It encourages a growth mindset
Teacher professional development prospects are thoughtful and are targeted to improve student outcomes and encourage a growth mindset. It enables educators to participate actively in their own learning and assure that both students and teachers are keen to learn.
- Improves organization and planning abilities
A well-rounded professional understands the importance of organization and planning, professional development helps the educators to curate teaching strategies and plan their classes in a creative manner that the students find appealing. It also encourages them to include new aspects into the curriculum, with an ultimate goal of student development.
- Enhances understanding of the subject matter
Students expect their educators to be subject matter experts in the subjects they teach. This means that teachers should be able to respond to any question posed by a student. Professional development programs can help teachers broaden their knowledge in a variety of subject areas. The more professional development opportunities teachers pursue, the more expertise and industry insight they gain.
Features that Make Professional Development Program Interesting
There are numerous obstacles to delivering an effective teacher professional development session, including time, money, engagement, efficiency, and others. While the challenges may be intimidating, they should not prevent educators from indulging in these programs and teacher training sessions that aim to expand their knowledge. Some features that make these development programs interesting are:-
- Using special techniques and ice-breaking games is a fun way to introduce teachers to new teaching methods. Dedicated activities must be inculcated to keep the teachers invested in the session.
- An open conversation with the teachers about the area where they lag and feel the need to improve helps in understanding their requirements. Thus, a specific program can be curated with the goal to resolve teachers' problems, rather than following a set pattern which can be boring.
- This is a continuous process and not something that can be finished off within a session or two. Teachers must be encouraged and supported to try out new strategies at the same time, they must also be encouraged to keep learning and exploring new methods of teaching.
To facilitate learning with efficacy, teachers must learn how to combine multiple modes of delivery: online, offline, and blended, especially in today's world. Smart education is no longer an alternative, but rather a strategic choice, and learning is no longer constrained to a closed school environment or a particular time. Learning can take place anywhere and at any time with the help of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
Professional development is about continuing to learn and grow as an educator throughout one's career. There will always be several opportunities to advance and improve one's teaching abilities. There is always something new to learn and new skills to acquire. Professional development is essential for teaching success because it helps in understanding why one makes specific choices and helps in evaluating the thinking pattern and how one copes up with certain circumstances.
Whether teachers attend workshops, seminars, or conferences, the ultimate aim of professional development for teachers is to create a new and advanced generation of educators capable of meeting the ever-evolving needs of the students.