The Importance Of Teacher Professional Development

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The current educational environment emphasizes teachers’ need to teach students to understand a subject – not only to memorize the rules of that subject. As a result, teachers have to develop their content knowledge in their respective areas to learn to present information in different ways and increase students’ understanding (EL-Deghaidy et al. 2015, Gullamhussein 2013, Holm and Kajander 2015, Garet 2001). To develop teachers’ knowledge, schools invest in professional development opportunities for teachers. However, teacher professional development can vary greatly in structure and effectiveness. For the purposes of this paper, effectiveness will be discussed in terms of a teacher’s ability to improve their student outcomes.
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Many teacher professional development opportunities tend to follow the “workshop” format where teachers are lectured. Workshops create situations where teachers are passive participants in their learning (Gullamhussein 2013, EL-Deghaidy 2015). However, research suggests this is not the best way to increase teacher effectiveness. This is because the workshop structure assumes that teachers are deficient in knowledge; thus, if knowledge is transferred to teachers, they will improve their teaching enough to increase student achievement (Gullamhussein 2013, Webster-Wright 2009). This theory of deficiency is the reason the workshop format tends to be a common format. However, research has shown that teachers do not struggle with learning the practices taught during professional development (Gullamhusein 2013, EL-Deghaidy 2015) – they struggle more with implementation. Matter of fact, teachers have expressed concern about workshops being too short and not allowing enough time to practice the techniques learned (EL-Deghaidy 2015). Interactive activities could help with the implementation struggle because this would give teachers the opportunity to practice the teaching techniques they are learning during professional development training. By encouraging teachers to engage in more interactive professional development opportunities, teachers are able …show more content…
Research suggests that continuous, interactive, and collaborative professional development opportunities facilitate teachers’ success. On the other hand, research has strongly rejected the frequently used workshop format of professional development opportunities because they are conducted in short, discreet intervals, are not interactive, and do not have a collaborative environment that encourages teachers to develop content knowledge and master teaching techniques. To increase schools’ cost-effectiveness, it is important that schools learn the difference between these professional development opportunities and ensure that teachers are only participating in optimal opportunities that will maximize their students’

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