While many of today's educators work towards advancing their degrees with specific goals in mind such as becoming school administrators or teaching at post-secondary institutions, others simply want to keep up with rapid changes in methodology and technology. In the words of one of America's greatest folk songwriters, Bob Dylan, indeed, The Times They Are a Changin'.
Few teachers enter the profession for the money, because it is not the highest paid profession commensurate with the number of years of study required to become certified. Teaching is a career entered into from the heart, and as such, our teachers want to give their students the very best they have to offer. Professional development is one of the most important ways to keep up with the evolving art and science of teaching and there are several ways to get ongoing training and insights.
Contractual Professional Development Requirements
Some, in fact most, school districts require teachers to get a certain number of professional development credits at various intervals as stipulated in their contracts. This would mean taking accredited and recognized classes within their field of study. These could be education credits, technology as pertains to the classroom and advances within their field.
Institutions such as Purdue University Global offer a wide range of classes which would meet the criteria of even the strictest of districts. With a focus on technology, teachers find that what they study can be easily carried over to the classroom so that they are not teaching outdated tech. The rate at which technology is advancing may even necessitate annual courses in such things as IT and computer science.
All Roads Lead to Rome
However, there are other ways to approach professional development which can also offer insights so necessary in today's classrooms. Yes, accredited courses are paramount in continuing education, and include things such things as:
- Peer study groups
- Peer observation with feedback
- Faculty and/or departmental meetings
- Mentoring newer teachers
- National, regional and local seminars and conferences
It may sound rather cliché, but when it comes to professional development, all roads really do lead to Rome if the teacher brings back skills, information or methods to the classroom, especially through the experience and insights of a mentor. While accredited courses give you the latest information and research needed to stay current, peer interaction, mentoring, and coaching may offer a broader perspective on teaching skills you may currently lack or need to hone up on.
Today's Students Are Tomorrow's Educators
This is not to say that teachers don't make a living salary, because in most states they do. However, for the same length of time in university, there are other professions with higher base salaries. Could it be that we have somehow lost sight of the value of an education within society?
If so, professional development from the heart can help to foster a new understanding in upcoming generations on just how important and life-changing an education can be. You are here to give your students the very best you have to offer, and that after all, is what just might inspire today's students to be the inspiring educators of tomorrow.