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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Why Is Teacher Development Important?: Because Students Deserve the Best

Teacher-preparation programs provide educators-to-be with the tools, mentors, and hands-on experience they'll need once they begin their career.
By Edutopia
Edutopia Team

Great teachers help create great students. In fact, research shows that an inspiring and informed teacher is the most important school-related factor influencing student achievement, so it is critical to pay close attention to how we train and support both new and experienced educators.

The best teacher-preparation programs emphasize subject-matter mastery and provide many opportunities for student teachers to spend time in real classrooms under the supervision of an experienced mentor. Just as professionals in medicine, architecture, and law have opportunities to learn through examining case studies, learning best practices, and participating in internships, exemplary teacher-preparation programs allow teacher candidates the time to apply their learning of theory in the context of teaching in a real classroom.

Many colleges and universities are revamping their education schools to include an emphasis on content knowledge, increased use of educational technologies, creation of professional-development schools, and innovative training programs aimed at career switchers and students who prefer to earn a degree online.

Teacher-Induction Programs

Support for beginning teachers is often uneven and inadequate. Even if well prepared, new teachers often are assigned to the most challenging schools and classes with little supervision and support. Nearly half of all teachers leave the profession in their first five years, so more attention must be paid to providing them with early and adequate support, especially if they are assigned to demanding school environments.

Mentoring and coaching from veteran colleagues is critical to the successful development of a new teacher. Great induction programs create opportunities for novice teachers to learn from best practices and analyze and reflect on their teaching.

Ongoing Professional Development

It is critical for veteran teachers to have ongoing and regular opportunities to learn from each other. Ongoing professional development keeps teachers up-to-date on new research on how children learn, emerging technology tools for the classroom, new curriculum resources, and more. The best professional development is ongoing, experiential, collaborative, and connected to and derived from working with students and understanding their culture. Return to our Teacher Development page to learn more.

Teacher Development Overview

Comments (118)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Teacher development is one way to encourage teachers to be and do their best and to share thoughts, ideas, and skills with others. Teachers have a tough job sometimes when school isn't always relevant to the students so our job is to create lessons that the learning is more relevant to their own personal lives.
What lesson have I taught that you may benefit from and what have you experienced that I can learn from?

Katie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Teacher development is a large essential in the educational field. Teachers are life-long learners, and should always stay on top of best practices. As a novice teacher, I agree that mentors and help from veteran teachers has a large impact on a first year teacher. We have a set amount of Professional Learning days where we have speakers come in to talk with us concerning different issues or strategies we can implement into our classroom. I find these days to be very beneficial to the staff of our school because it helps keep us up to date on current practices in the classroom. Teacher development creates the success within our classroom as an educator.

Katie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)


Our school is also required to have a set amount of Professional Learning Units (PLU's) each year. I believe this is a good idea in order for counties to keep their educators up to date on the newest information and strategies.

shelly's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am sure most teachers that are interested in doing what is best for their students feel that continuing ed. is essential for all educators. In Arkansas, all teachers are required to have 60 hours of professional development a school year. In my district, our administration is very supportive of professional development. I have been furtunate to attend over the years several national conventions and many state wide conferences. However, the key to all of the development is what do we ,as teachers, do with the knowledge we gain from these workshops? Many times, teachers will go on a week long conference and the remaining teachers that did not attend will not hear a word of what went on. As Sonia Nieto writes in her book "What keeps teachers going?, teachers must have a continous dialogue with each other as people and as colleagues. I wish teachers had more time for collaboration and time to find what strategies works best for individual students.

Brooke Morgan's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Professional development can seem like a waste of time and money. We did have one professional development day that was awesome. A lady by the name of Donna Whyte came to expand our knowledge of centers. We, as a school, have been working very hard on obtaining rigorous, engaging centers for every grade. In this training, Donna Whyte showed us how to create centers and adapt them to our own children. We created "make and take" centers. It was worth all the money we paid to get her to our school. I am even going to another workshop with her this summer.

Shelly's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I absolutely agree that teacher development is necessary for all teachers, whether novice or expert. My concern is as a certified teacher who has not found a permanent position I cannot afford to attend these types of workshops. I hope that school districts begin to offer these programs to their substitute teachers so that we can continue to build on our education also.

susan brooks's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Professional development is essential to to a teachers growth and development I believe that development comes in several different ways. One way is the day to day inter action with the teachers in your own school. Second way is upper level college courses where subject matter is taught and explored. Thirdly, experience day to day work with the students to see what works and what does not. Lastly interaction with other professionals. Opportunities to discuss what you have tried and then comparing and contrasting it with other teachers.

Tifani's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Teachers need to constantly challenge themselves and be ready to learn to new things. It can be easy as a teacher to get stuck in the daily grind. Finding ways to improve what you are doing in the classroom and improve you content knowledge can make you a better teacher. Even if you have been teacher for many years, there is nothing wrong with continuing to improve your own education.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

In Minnesota we are required to have 125 hours of professional development every five years to renew our license.

In our school district we now have the opportunity to participate in Professional Learning Communities. We choose the topic that we would like to study and then form a group to work together. I find this very helpful because I can be learning something that I can use in my classroom.

Francisco Sancehez's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

To support new teachers is very important bacause it reflects the success of the students, and the sense to do the job well done.
The role of mentors and expert teachers may be decisive for novice teachers to stay in the profession. Continuous training is instrumental for the success and may avoid teacher drop outs.

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