Professional Development of Teachers
For the 21st century teacher, the purpose of professional development (PD), to keep up-to- date with the latest in pedagogical practices and knowledge in their subject discipline, is still relevant now as it was in the past. Today, it is important that teachers make the most out of professional development opportunities by attending courses, teacher development programs and workshops. Such PD opportunities “enhances the skills, knowledge and understanding of teachers in order to enhance student learning outcomes” (Queensland College of Teachers, 2015).
The professional teacher today is faced with many challenges in their professional career. These challenges are mostly due to the constant changes taking place in society which may or may not be technological related. However, schools today as with in the past, are constantly trying to keep up with the demands of society in order to prepare their students for their future. Technology being at the forefront of most of the changes in society means that schools are faced with the challenge of continually updating their knowledge and practices in this particular field.
It is for these particular reasons that continual professional development (CPD) for teachers in the area of technology integration is even more critical than it is in other curriculum areas. The demand from society for technological advancements places a heavy burden on those that teach today. Enclosed in this knowledge is the fact that whilst most teachers today all learned to read and write as a process of their education, very few have grown up in the digital era that we have today. In addition, technological skills has been in the past something that people only learned by themselves or from other peers on a need-to-know basis.
CPD for teachers in relation to learning how to appropriately use technology as a teaching tool is therefore significant to the well-being of the student. Teachers are the key to change in education. However, they require effective professional development as there are significant risks associated with integrating technology as student learning can be diminished.
Components of effective professional development:
- The PD addresses the individual needs of teachers;
- Focus their energy on creating a culture that supports technology integration, peer-to-peer interaction, and risk taking;
- They incorporate technology into the overall goals and directions of curriculum work;
- PD approaches that recognise that ICT integration must be situated within content areas and pedagogical approaches in schools and;
- Allows time for teachers to know about the integration strategies, learn about the integration strategies, practice the integration strategies and evaluate the integration strategies.