The role of schools is constantly changing. Classrooms are becoming more inclusive. Teachers are asked to place more emphasis on integrating students with special learning needs in our classrooms. We are also asked to use communication technologies more effectively, involve parents in school, and show equity as well as quality in our teaching. However, even with a degree, and the best pre-service training for teachers, we are not ready for all the challenges we face during our career. We need to continue seeking the knowledge to improve our teaching practice and develop the skills to meet the growing demands of education.
Lots of options
Fortunately, there is a great variety of programs to choose from. We have day-long or weekend conferences, workshops, online courses, webinars, and on-site training. Independent research, peer learning initiatives, or even chatting with a colleague, can be very valuable opportunities for informal professional development. When we can tell our colleagues about our experiences in the classroom, and listen to theirs, we have extremely useful PD linked to our teaching context.
Choose whenever possible
Many times, educational authorities, district, or school administrators make the decision of when and which PD program teachers and school leaders have to follow. However, when it is possible, we should choose PD that involves us in learning activities that are similar to those we will use with our students. We should also remember that successful programs include training, practice, and feedback. They promote changes in our teaching whenever we have the support to implement new ideas in our classrooms.
One example of this is a four-month course I took on neurosciences applied to education. It included not only the theoretical aspects of neurosciences but also practical activities showing the benefits of applying them to improve our classes. Fortunately, my school administrators supported me in implementing what I had learned and gave me feedback, as well as the course professors.
Remember that educational technology, school district guidelines, and curriculum standards are constantly changing, making it necessary for teachers to keep up with the best techniques. A high-quality PD program has huge benefits for us and for our students. And that is our ultimate objective as teachers.