Teachers of varying tenure often ask, “why is professional development important for teachers?” Learning doesn’t end when we obtain a degree and enter the world of work; it is an ongoing process of continuous self-improvement and exploration of the world around us. And a commitment to lifelong learning is a core aspect of being a teacher and a characteristic that is intrinsic to many of them. Education is a field that is constantly changing. It evolves in response to the changing needs of students and in response to emerging research about how human beings learn as well as changes in the world outside the classroom. No matter how long you’ve been a teacher, there is always an opportunity to hone your craft and become more effective at what you do.
Professional development allows teachers to expand their skills and knowledge and grow as educators. It is a way to become a better teacher, advance your career, better understand your students, and challenge yourself in and out of the classroom. Professional development can take the form of online or traditional courses, conferences and seminars, workshops, specialized training, educational videos and books, and other activities. States each have their requirements regarding continuing professional development hours for teachers, so some professional development may be mandated by your school district or state department of education.
Aside from the mandatory professional development necessary for licensure renewal, there are numerous benefits to engaging in professional development. This post will explore some of the reasons why professional development is not only beneficial but crucial to a successful and fulfilling teaching career.
Some PD Allows You Pursue What Matters to You
Sometimes, the mandated teacher professional development activities we participate in take a one-size-fits-all approach. The problem is that our classroom experiences and students’ needs vary widely. By pursuing some self-directed professional development, you can seek out the topics and strategies most relevant to you and the unique needs of your student population. Online professional development, including courses, webinars, videos, articles, and downloadable materials can all help you pursue topics that are relevant to your classroom.
Student Outcomes Improve When Teachers Improve
Professional development is an investment in yourself, your future, and your students. Engaging in professional development has been shown to have a measurable impact on student engagement and achievement. Professional development increases teachers’ understanding of how students learn and their knowledge of effective teaching methods. Plus, participating in ongoing professional development builds empathy with students and allows teachers to model the kinds of learning behaviors they want to encourage in their classrooms. While professional development is beneficial for teachers, it also translates into better student outcomes.
PD Advances Your Career
One of the leading reasons people become dissatisfied with their jobs is a lack of room to grow. As a result of a teacher’s professional growth and development, they may become a principal. While you may not want to be a principal, you may be interested in holding a leadership position in your school, school district, or community to experience new challenges in your career. Professional development is key if you want to advance your career in any capacity. By making a professional development plan, you can map out a set of goals and a timeline for getting there. Professional development is a way to learn leadership skills that will make you more competitive and keep you stimulated and engaged at work.
PD Allows You to Connect with Your Peers
It’s no secret that teachers are overwhelmed, especially today. It is easy to become burned out and isolated. Teachers often spend much of their work day with students and doing administrative tasks, not connecting with your colleagues. Professional development offers an opportunity to share experiences with your fellow teachers and feel much less alone in the challenges you face. Teachers can help each other become better educators when they collaborate and exchange ideas. Workshops, conferences, and shared conversations about teaching help teachers learn from one another and become energized. Take the opportunity to share your insights, ask for advice, or find a mentor (or mentee!).
PD Helps You Stay Up to Date on Best Practices and Industry Trends
The field of education is constantly evolving. What was considered best practices a decade ago might be outdated now. New research insights and a rapidly changing world necessitate ongoing evaluation and adjustment of our teaching methods. Professional development allows teachers to remain abreast of emerging research in cognitive development and teaching and learning. New technologies transform what’s possible in education. Changes in demographics, digital literacy, and the cultural landscape affect students’ needs in the classroom. For example, you can learn new ways to structure your class time to serve better neurodiverse students or those experiencing mental health challenges. You can learn how to utilize new technologies in the classroom in a meaningful and effective way. Or, you might explore different instruction methods for keeping students engaged and on-task.
PD Can Make Your Job Easier
No matter how long you’ve been teaching, areas of growth for teachers exist. Ask even the most respected teachers you know, and they’ll say that great teachers aren’t born that way—it takes years of experience, dedication, and continuous self-improvement. You can become the best version of yourself from continuing professional development.
Avanti offers professional development videos and accompanying materials on various topics, from building relationships to direct instruction, student engagement, and ways to create a supportive learning environment. In addition to learning new teaching strategies, Avanti’s professional development resources can help you with other aspects of your job, from lesson planning to assess student work to managing administrative tasks and paperwork. By building up your organization and time management skills, you can take more control of your time and avoid burnout. Whatever your career goals or classroom needs, Avanti seeks to provide professional learning resources to support you.