Understanding Professional Development for Educators

Understanding Professional Development for Educators

Neeta Baporikar (HP-GSB, Namibia University of Science and Technology, Namibia)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJSEM.2015100102
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

Professional development refers to different educational experiences related to an individual's work. Doctors, lawyers, educators, accountants, engineers, businessmen and people in a wide variety of professions participate in professional development to learn and apply new knowledge and skills that will improve their performance on the job. For teachers and leaders to be as effective as possible, they continually need to expand their knowledge and skills. Professional development is the only strategy institution systems have to strengthen educators' performance levels and also the only way educators can learn so that they are able to better their performance and raise student achievement. Many misunderstandings exist about professional development. Through in depth literature review and deep observation, this paper is aims to answer fundamental questions about professional development for educators so as to inform and engage more people in understanding that strengthening the quality of professional development for educators is crucial for making professional development effective.
Article Preview

Introduction

Professional development refers to many types of educational experiences related to an individual’s work. Doctors, lawyers, educators, accountants, engineers, and people in a wide variety of professions and businesses participate in professional development to learn and apply new knowledge and skills that will improve their performance on the job. Many fields require members to participate in ongoing learning approved by the profession, sometimes as a requirement for keeping their jobs. Professionals often also voluntarily seek new learning. In education, research has shown that teaching quality and leadership are the most important factors in raising student achievement. For teachers and leaders to be as effective as possible, they continually need to expand their knowledge and skills to implement the best educational practices. Educators learn to help students learn at the highest levels. Effective teaching is an activity that can be learned, and the notion that someone is born to teach is simply inaccurate (Francesca Forzani, 2013). Improving the practice of teaching “learning to teach better” does not necessarily come from teaching longer. Experience does not lead directly to better instruction (Marc Tucker, 2013). “Enhancing skills, knowing strategies, and understanding content and how to unpack that content in ways that students can understand” these are aspects of teaching that can be learned and improved upon.

This paper is an effort to answer basic questions, to inform and engage more people in understanding that strengthening the quality and professional development for educators is crucial for making professional development effective. Moreover, effective professional development enables educators to develop the knowledge and skills much needed to address students’ learning challenges in today’s world.

Professional development in education has gotten a bad reputation, and for good reason. Everyone on all sides of the education reform and improvement debate agrees that what most teachers receive as professional opportunities to learn are thin, sporadic, and of little use when it comes to improving teaching. The “professional development ‘system’ for teachers is, by all accounts, broken.” (Hill, 2009) Harvard University Professor Hill and others, likely reason for this view is the reliance on short-term, episodic, and disconnected professional learning for teachers “the kinds of training programs that are unlikely to positively influence teaching and improve student achievement. (R.C. Wei, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Frank Adamson, 2010) It takes sustained investment of time into teacher training to change instruction and improve classroom outcomes. A review of research on the effect of professional development on increased student learning found that programs had to include more than 14 hours of professional development for student learning to be affected (Kwang Suk Yoon and others, 2007). None of this is lost on the educators on the receiving end of professional development. “Perhaps the most damning indictment of PD [professional development] is that even teachers themselves regard it with contempt,” writes Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute (Frederick Hess, 2013). Yet the education industry “including federal, state, and local education policymakers, plus all those who work to deliver teaching and learning to students” has recently made a sizable bet on the power of professional support to change teaching and boost student learning.

Complete Article List

Search this Journal:
Reset
Open Access Articles: Forthcoming
Volume 6: 4 Issues (2017)
Volume 5: 4 Issues (2016)
Volume 4: 4 Issues (2015)
Volume 3: 4 Issues (2014)
Volume 2: 4 Issues (2013)
Volume 1: 4 Issues (2012)
View Complete Journal Contents Listing