Learning should never stop. This couldn’t be truer for teachers. The fact that teachers are one of those few who get to shape a child’s future only reinforces the importance of investing in their development.
Professional development for teachers includes any kind of program which enhances their skills. This can be with respect to improvement in domain knowledge or development of some skills necessary for the new world that we are living in.
It is not an easy task to craft the perfect professional development program for teachers as every individual is different. There is no one size fits all strategy that can be adopted here. However, over time, certain ways work better, and thus, we bring to you 4 tips that will help you create an effective program.
1. Identify the purpose – Whenever you are setting up a conference or session, the first step that you must take is to identify the purpose behind it. This purpose must be as specific as possible.
For instance, you want the teachers to improve their communication skills with kids. Obviously, the session shall be about this topic but try and think how you can make it more specific. Ask for feedback from teachers; maybe they will tell you that the biggest problem they face is with stubborn children.
The focus of the session can then be narrowed down. This will not only make it more appealing to the teachers but also yield better results.
2. Choose the right resource person – Always remember that you are organizing a session for people who are very smart and who value their time. Make it worthwhile for them to attend.
You can do so by finding a resource person who is an expert in their area. Teachers value education so it is always better if the person either has excellent academic records or exhibits other relevant credentials.
Overall, it is the resource person’s duty to make sure that teachers are engaged throughout and do not feel like they are going through the motions. Else, the whole session will be nothing but a waste of time and money.
3. Think futuristic – More than the school, it is the teachers who realize that they must constantly update themselves. It is for this reason that the development program must be futuristic.
A very good idea in the present times is to have a session on how teachers are impacted by Artificial Intelligence (AI). Not only do they need to have an understanding of what AI is and how it is impacting everyone in general but they also need to think from the child’s point of view.
Similarly, the use of technology in teaching is only going to increase and new and innovative ways can be taught to the teachers. This will enable them to make their classes interesting.
4. Make it a continuous process – There has to be a continuous loop. The need for professional development is undisputed but the question is as to what kind of development is needed. The answer can only emerge from feedback.
It is important to realize that this development cannot be a one-time thing. A conference successfully conducted is only a job well begun. The next step is to ensure the learnings are implemented in classes. Feedback from teachers and parents can help identify any lacuna which can be filled in future sessions.
At the end of the day, it needs to be realized that teachers are humans too and need some off time. While these development programs need to target the goal of capacity building, there is always an option to add a fun element.
Incorporating an adventure into these programs can immensely add to the value delivered to both teachers as well as the organizers. For instance, a simple idea to host the program at a small resort on the beach can add the necessary zing to the whole ecosystem.
The tips covered above can be supplemented by constant peer-to-peer support for the teachers. It will ensure that the learnings from the program can be used for actual improvement. Domain knowledge can be acquired even individually but personality development occurs naturally in groups.
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