Many people think they know exactly what “professional development” is. But do they, really?
Let's start by giving “professional development” a definition. PD is a process that responds to a phase of personal growth and self-realization experienced by each individual. Professional development allows the person to establish an itinerary of evolution, taking into account the person’s work experience, acquired knowledge and vocation.
But good PD is so much deeper than that, and it depends on the individual.
The Role of Confidence and Desire to Better Oneself
Professional development is linked to a positive attitude, because a positive attitude allows people to gain confidence and developed towards becoming a more qualified professional.
The field of education is no exception. The teacher is a worker who develops a set of interpersonal relationships, and therefore has to invest in his or her own self—personally and emotionally—in order to ensure educational excellence. Committed teachers know that professional development is an essential tool in their training. But more importantly, committed teachers know that when they learn, it leads them to increase academic achievement in students, and continue to develop appropriate and successful practices in their school environment.
In addition to confidence, it is vital that the teacher is motivated and is passionate about his or her profession. An educator should always assume the role of “researcher” and “constant learner,” as the process of learning is one for life. Why? The teacher must be a leader in redesigning their instruction, daily. He or she must also be a connoisseur of curriculum content and student needs—and the only way to do this is through wanting to develop professionally.
When You Better Yourself, Students Mimic That Behavior
When a teacher shows students a sense of confidence, this generates a sense of comfort and security in the students themselves. This is where the teacher becomes an agent of change and transformation in educational management—teachers affect what students want to learn! For example, if the teacher is a reliable researcher (meaning he or she is willing to find answers to unanswered questions), the students will notice, and that will be a motivating factor for them to learn more.
The task of the teacher, then, is not merely to teach a class. The educator may be immersed in a large number of responsibilities, but he or she should not as a mere transmitter of knowledge. He or she must learn, too. And truthfully, a good leader recognizes the importance of improving practice over time and making frequent changes throughout his or her professional life.
Don’t Wait For Good Edtech PD—Go Out and Find It
Currently, students and educators are immersed in the “edtech" movement; this means that the need for professional development is even greater than before. The teacher has the task of providing a technological environment for students, while also making sure that the classroom continues to be a community of learning. That’s tough! It does pay off, though, when educators are avant-garde in their practices, as students consider it a source of inspiration.
Edtech, however, can only work in the classroom if teachers take the first step of seeking out professional development to help themselves progress. That can mean developing networks, finding materials and teaching strategies, and/or running investigations to assess the use of these tools.
At the end of the day, professional development is a constant for everyone—whether in education or not—because it involves the development of responsible, disciplined, and sensitive human beings with high expectations. So, I urge you: take professional development seriously, as a key to success. Your students’ learning depends on it.