An idea seriously promulgated by Howard Gardner, differentiated learning and instruction play pivotal roles in the classroom. As the years go on, more and more apparent it becomes that students learn in varying ways. Some youngsters will absorb material best when allowed to use creativity and art while others will retain concepts well when mathematics are involved. Teaching a room full of students who all have different learning styles can feel challenging. Professional development opportunities can help teachers learn how to address the varying styles while keeping students on track with the curriculum.
Large-Scale Testing and Standards
Teachers also need to know in-depth information about large-scale testing and standards that apply to their schools. For example, many states have a set of exams that high school students need to pass in order to graduate with a certain type of diploma. Understanding how these tests work and how to best support students in their endeavors to pass are crucial. During professional development courses, teachers can gain valuable insight into how to prepare their students for the exams without turning the class into a rote experience every day.
Approaches to grading are often a subject of debate. Some parents feel that teachers grade unfairly; at the college level, students often begin to voice these concerns themselves. On the other hand, teachers may feel as though they are generous in their grading. Professional development sessions may not have the ability to make every single teacher grade in the exact same way, but the discussions that happen can lead to greater cohesion. Furthermore, teachers can share ideas about methods of assessment that are most appropriate for different grade levels and subjects.
Content Based Development
Many teachers have a degree in a content area, or they specialize in a particular subject. Staying on top of the latest information in the content area is of utmost importance as teachers want to ensure that they are conveying accurate and updated information to their students. Attending professional development in the content area is a way for teachers to learn some new information. In addition to building this folder of content-based knowledges, they can also get ideas for exciting new ways to convey the material to their students.
Research Based Development
Some teachers may also want to learn more about the research components of education. For example, they may eventually want to pursue a doctoral degree and study a specific area in this field. Taking research-based classes or enrolling in such workshops can help them to get started. Even if they are not yet beginning their doctoral degrees, they can take what they learned and integrate the ideas into the classroom when appropriate. For example, a teacher instructing students on how to conduct research can really bring the professional edge into the classroom.
In addition to learning more about individual content areas, teachers also want to build connections to other disciplines. At the college level, for example, interdisciplinary connections are typically highly encouraged. Teachers from elementary to high school can then begin to prepare students for those experiences. Workshops and seminars provide a platform for teachers to share ideas about how to apply mathematics to an English class or how to integrate the learning of another language into a history lesson. Interdisciplinary approaches help students to see how connected the world is.
Unfortunately, concerns about school safety are prominent at this time, particularly with the mass shootings that have happened in the country. Teachers must know what methods to use and safety protocols to follow in the event of an emergency. While going to this type of training can feel difficult, doing so is one of the most important steps for teachers now. Learning how to respond in an emergency could literally save multiple lives.
Integrating the internet into the classroom is a useful approach that some teachers employ. For example, they may use web-based games to help teach new concepts to the students, or they might ask the group to conduct research during an in-class session. While the internet certainly provides valuable avenues for learning, students can also find themselves encountering harmful or frightening content and people. As a result, teachers must stay updated on techniques to use to ensure that their students are safe from the dangers of the internet.
Technology can help students to learn in many ways. The generations in school now were brought up with technology surrounding them in such a host of capacities. Educators may think that technology acts as a distraction, but this sentiment isn't always true. Texting friends and going on social media during class are certainly inappropriate behaviors, but not all forms of technology lead to these situations. Professional development can expose teachers to the different tools they might integrate in the classroom. Also, learning new forms of technology isn't always so simple, and the professional development opportunities allow a space where teachers can harness their skills.
The classroom is a place where all students should feel safe to express their individuality, beliefs and personalities. However, some students do not feel this way, and professional development can help teachers to create a more inclusive environment. Many teachers may say that they do promote this type of environment, but keeping an open mind to what training can offer is imperative. For example, after attending an implicit bias workshop, teachers may realize that they had biases of which they were entirely unaware.
Teachers should also know how to integrate approaches for students with learning disabilities into their classrooms. They may wish to seek out professional development opportunities that are geared toward specific learning disabilities. Certainly, some teachers are trained in special education and have their degrees in this area. However, keep in mind that not all students with learning disabilities are in special education classrooms. Appropriate strategies for differentiated learning across the board are necessary for teachers.
The increased amount of importance on mental health is of utmost importance. Many young people are struggling with mental-health concerns, and they do not know where to turn. Teachers may be the first points of contact for students who are experiencing these struggles. Attending professional development seminars that focus on mental health bolster the teachers' concepts of how to respond to such concerns and how to notice that their students may be struggling with mental-health issues.
One seriously important type of training for teachers to look into is QPR training. The acronym QPR stands for question, persuade and refer, and this method is one that teachers can employ if students are exhibiting any type of suicidal behavior. Enrolling in this form of training can help teachers learn how to identify signs and how to approach the situation.
Learning is not a process that ends when the classroom door closes for the day, and this statement is true for both students and teachers. In order to enhance their own knowledge and to bolster the experiences that students have in the classroom, teachers pursue professional development opportunities.