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How to Foster Professional Development in Teachers

Professional development has become an increasingly fundamental responsibility for educators. As education leaders have gained a better understanding of students’ complex needs, the value of continuing to hone their own skills has become clear. By staying on the leading edge of their professional development, teachers position themselves to better empower and enable their students as learners.

States require teachers to stay on top of trends and innovations by undergoing professional development annually. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which was passed federally in 2015, allows the states to develop their own requirements and accountability systems for additional training and learning.

For professional development to be effective, however, teachers must buy in, and education leaders in every district are responsible for inspiring that commitment. As district leaders, they must create an environment that makes their counterparts want to actively engage with continued learning and ensure that learning is meaningful and enriching for teachers.

A graduate program such as the online Master of Science in Education (MSE) in Educational Administration with a Specialization in Teacher Leader from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) prepares education leaders with the skills and knowledge necessary to create a robust, engaging framework for professional development among teachers.

Professional education credentials are issued state-by-state, and professional development requirements are also developed at the state level. As a result, the SIUE program prepares grads to go anywhere, including nearby states such as Missouri.

No matter where graduates of the program eventually land, the skills acquired in this fully accredited online program are transferable to any school district or education setting. SIUE graduates will also have the know-how to adapt their skills to fit the needs of their environment.

Here is a look at some effective ideas for fostering continued professional development among teachers.

Offer Chances for Feedback and Reflection

According to the Learning Policy Institute, one of the most common features of successful professional development plans is that they offer “built-in time for teachers to think about, receive input on, and make changes to their practice by facilitating reflection and soliciting feedback.”

By seeking feedback, leaders have a chance to hear from teachers about what has or has not been working in continued learning and make the necessary adjustments. This also empowers the teachers and gives them a sense of agency in this process, which can help foster a greater investment.

Include Expert Resources and Strong Support

Missouri offers a variety of online resources, as well as in-person professional development sites where teachers can pursue continued learning and get expert coaching and support. The state’s Regional Professional Development Centers also share their teaching resources online so districts throughout the state can access them remotely at any time.

This can also include bringing experts or coaches into a district to address teachers and share their deep knowledge and experience on a topic with teachers.

Embed Development Into the Job

Teachers are notoriously busy juggling many different responsibilities in their day to day. Carving out time for additional training exercises outside school can be a major challenge for many teachers.

One way to improve retention and convenience in professional development is by embedding the process in the regular teaching routine, suggests a post by Prodigy. By making continued learning part of a routine, teachers have a chance to try out or implement new ideas immediately, and this helps to normalize professional development.

Utilize Active Learning and Appropriate Adult Learning Pedagogy

Active learning, as most teachers probably already know, means that learners can get hands-on experience with their learning material. Education leaders must give teachers a chance to act out what they’re learning and engage with it in meaningful ways.

The strategies for professional development should also be based on sound adult learning theory in order to ensure that the training programs are worthwhile for everyone.

Learn more about Southern Illinois University Edwardsville’s online Master of Science in Education in Educational Administration with a Specialization in Teacher Leader program.

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