- There is a need for specialized educational professional development.
- PD that gives choice to the participants helps them draw on their strengths and weaknesses, as well as build meaningful relationships with other educators.
Educational Professional Development: A Transformation
Virtual learning has altered the fundamental nature of the way we teach. The last year and a half have embraced huge changes in the education sector. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” As educators, we must be a part of this transformation. We need to call to action those who see a better future through shifts in teaching practices.
As we march forward towards uncharted territories, it is crucial that we build innovative skills within ourselves, much like the process of student learning. We always encourage our students to foster skills necessary to succeed in the future. Why should the journey of teaching be any different?
As a vocation, teachers indulge in and enjoy professional development as it awards them new perspectives and strategies. I have never seen any other career where individuals are eager to read job-related books during their vacation. They also willingly surrender their time at home by upskilling themselves in their free time.One area that educators are crying out for is doing away with one-size-fits-all professional development sessions. Each facilitator has distinctive traits that empower them to be suited to the classroom. Click To Tweet
The need for specialized PD
Teaching practices are redefining themselves for the upcoming session. One area that educators are crying out for is doing away with one-size-fits-all professional development sessions. Each facilitator has distinctive traits that empower them to be suited to the classroom. While standard PD is required, it should not be the norm.
The uniqueness of each person needs to be considered and respected. Schools need to put in the effort into building skills that actively interest their staff. They should receive new training that is relevant to their gifts.
Focusing PD on strengths and weaknesses
An outstanding initiative in my school was having “Café Sessions.” Our management encouraged teachers to lead workshops in areas of expertise. Other facilitators were given a list of workshops being conducted and could sign up for any that fascinated them.
As I considered myself a language specialist, I took a “Constructivism in Language Learning” session. Most foreign language teachers attended my workshop. Others went to workshops that they felt covered skills that they needed to develop. We even had a “Tech Buffet” PD session wherein educators could choose from a plethora of tech tools to explore, including mastering Microsoft Teams, navigating Google Calendar, and many more. These skills ranged from basic to intermediate, thus catering to all levels. Each educator reflected on shaky areas and signed up for the buffet with enthusiasm. It was differentiation brought to life!
Having teachers of shared interests come together in this approach fostered a spirit of reflection. Conversations flowed with not a single teacher experiencing boredom. We all concluded the day having made new friendships. We pledged to pursue further inquiry questions related to our topic in separate PD groups in the future.[scroll down to keep reading]
Getting the most out of PD
Experiencing the joy of sharing knowledge reinforced my belief that intrinsic motivation is critical to gain from professional development. Every teacher will undoubtedly have some takeaways from standard PD. However, every opinion and question in specialized sessions is worth digging into more deeply. Moreover, the incentive to pay attention, take notes, and execute strategies that interest you cannot be denied.
While planning specialized PD, the format chosen is also of supreme importance. When we plan our lessons, we keep the learning styles of our audience in mind. This pushes us to devise learning engagements accordingly.
Facilitators should be kept on their toes to get the most out of the conference. When I took my workshop on language learning, mixed media was used. A PowerPoint Presentation, songs, and various activities required teachers to get on their feet and think aloud. An element of fun doesn’t hurt either! I played Michael Jackson’s music video Black or White to elicit questions on race and diversity. The teachers were excited, wide awake, and singing along! As a result, they engaged in meaningful discussions about how language has promoted equity over the years.
Educational Professional Development: Takeaways
Professional development is not merely a requirement to be a teacher; it is a necessity. To mature and stay relevant in this profession, we need to find new ways to impact our students. In these changing times, we need to look at several strategies for conveying PD to cohorts of specialists in their fields. The possibilities are endless, and the benefits of specialized development programs can affect the entire education industry.
About Sanam Edwards
Sanam Edwards is a teacher in Gurgaon (India). She enjoys building the student’s voice and choice within the classroom environment while infusing her quirky sense of humour into daily activities. She’s an advocate for technology in the classroom and is constantly on the lookout for new ways to engage the students mentally and emotionally. She regularly blogs about her forays in the education sector at www.reviewmirror.in