The Importance of Professional Development for Teachers
Role in student achievement
It is imperative the educators comprehend the essence of professional development for teachers and its impact on education. Research published in the Educational Leadership Journal revealed that teachers gain increased experience in their professional growth and respective teaching roles by examining their teaching abilities, when they undergo professional development.
Experienced and knowledgeable teachers nurture great students. Extensive research on the relationship between professional development and student achievement suggests that an informed teacher is the greatest school-related contributor to student achievement.
Effective professional development programs for teachers should emphasize subject mastery. They should also create an avenue for teachers and students to interact in real classrooms under the supervision of mentors. This is in contrast to conventional professional development approaches that consisted mainly of workshops and short-term courses.
In 2003, Marzano, in his book What Works in School: Translating Research into Action, warned that standard staff development approaches that don’t cater for effective application of the insight gained would hamper efforts to change teacher behavior.
Like most other professions such as medicine, engineering, architecture and others where professionals learn by evaluating case studies, participating in internships and learning about best practices, effective staff development programs allow contextual application of learning theories in actual classrooms for maximum impact.
Benefits to schools
Schools should serve as an environment for continuous learning for adult and students. Progressive skills and knowledge development by teachers and administrators emphasizes the importance and usefulness of learning. Continues development creases a culture of learning in the school and also supports teachers’ efforts in engaging their students in the learning process. Schools that organize team-based professional development with the expectation of consistent participation but teachers and administrators ultimately demonstrate their commitment towards ensuring all educators are performing at high levels.
There’s often uneven and inadequate support for teachers beginning their profession. Sometimes even with experience, teachers find themselves in challenging schools and class with little or no mentorship and supervision. Such challenges contribute to the observation that almost half of all teachers leave the profession within the first five years. This creates and urgency and necessity to provide them with early and adequate support especially those assigned to demanding school environments.
Veteran teachers can be instrumental coaches and mentors to new teachers. They can serve as critical success factors in professional development. Such insights can be gained through inductions programs, which create opportunities for novice teachers to learn from the best as they reflect on their teaching practices with the aim of continually improving them.
Edutopia. (2008). Why Is Teacher Development Important? Because Students Deserve the Best. Retrieved September 17, 2015 from <http://www.edutopia.org/teacher-development-introduction>
Glattenhorn, A. (1987). Cooperative Professional Development: Peer Centered Options for Teacher Growth. Educational Leadership, (3)45, 31-35
Marzano, R. J. (2003). What Works in School: Translating Research into Action. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Mizell, H. (2010). Why Professional Development Matters. Leaning Forward