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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

cbalmeo's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I do agree that teacher development is important because this will contribute into becoming an expert in the chosen profession.

cbalmeo's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Yes, I agree that learning is a continuous process. Teachers need to be updated on the recent researches and be wise enough to choose and apply the current findings in the classroom. This way, I believe we grow professionally impacting on the students betterment.

cbalmeo's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Yes, that's what I believe in also that teachers never really reach the expert stage because we are always learning new things. We may have acquired skills, resources, and strategies but each year is a different field that we have to learn how to manage.

Tricia Patterson's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Professional Development is so important for me to stay current on the latest trends and research in Language Arts which is the content area I teach. It helps me to gain insight from my colleagues and other professionals. With new knowledge and ideas, I feel more confident in teaching not only the subject matter but that I am a more effective teacher in the process.

Jennifer's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I wish that I had this type of instruction when I was going through student teaching. I felt like I was "thrown to the wolves" during my first internship. I did not feel that my college courses prepared me for the classroom. Getting into the classroom earlier is a great idea.

Jennifer
Baltimore, MD

Nicole's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Jennifer,
I'm sorry that you were thrown into teaching. Did you have any experience in the classroom before student teaching? When I was in college, I was introduced to the classroom environment starting my first semester. It was great to get so much experience in so many different kinds of classrooms. Most of our work was observation until Sophomore year. This is when we started teaching lessons with a partner, which prepared us and allowed us to work our way up to teaching alone. Because of this I was very comfortable in student teaching. I agree that starting early is a great idea!

Nicole's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with what a lot of you are saying. True teachers are life-long learners. In order to inspire our students to love learning we need to love learning and strive to continue this throughout our own lives. In the same aspect, teacher development and introduction programs are so important. Our students deserve the best, and in order to give them this, we need to stay current in our fields of expertise.

I agree that it is important for teachers to have a lot of experience in the classroom. In my college experience, I started in the classroom observing in my first semester. Then, I was able to start teaching with a partner in my sophomore year. This made em very confident and comfortable. In my Junior year I still worked with a partner to develop a unit, but I taight my lessons by myself. By senior student teaching, I had already been in the classroom so many times that I was not intimidated. I think this really helped me as a teacher candidate.

I graduated college in 2007. Since then I have been pursuing my masters as well as attending many district and state workshops to constantly improve my teaching. I will be learning for the rest of my life, and that excited me!

MIndy's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

"Preparing to Teach"

The video showed the importance of collabortion. I think this is something we do a lot of in school, but once we graduate we lose the opportunity to really share with each other how things are going. I am surprised by some teachers lack of desire to do this too. I feel I learn the most when we talk things through. I liked the "Project Promise" offered by CSU. Wouldn't it be great to have that much collaboration throughout our teaching experience? I also think new teachers offer a "breathe of fresh air" to those that have been around awhile.

How do will express the importance of professional collaboration to our stakehoders? The parents in our district just turned down our proposal to have one half day late start for collegial work. This was very frustrating because we need more consistancy for this to work! Any ideas?

Mindy's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I find myself getting stagnant if I am not learning something new. This makes me think of those students that always get it. How do we keep them challenged and inspired? I think we have to develop their love for learning first and teach them to dig deeper and look further!

Mr. T's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with your observation of CSU's program. The collaboration is not only an effective means of growth as future educators, but also an essential element in the growth of existing educators as well.
Your mention of the turned down proposal is disheartening. If parents do not support the growth of their children's educators, how do they propose these educators will stay up to date with current trends and practices? Does your district have other built in days for collegial meetings? Has a representative of your district informed the public of the importance of such meetings? My suggestion would be to have your local PTA and representatives from your local union get together with your central administrators to discuss a viable solution to this matter. Instead of simply giving the power to those who are uninformed, allow a educated panel to make the decision regarding the time for collegial meetings. This will give the masses the satisfaction of being represented, while allowing your administration to share the importance of these meetings and find a way to incorporate them into your schedule that parents and teachers will both be a part of.
Good luck, while parents can be our best allies they can also be our biggest critics. Always try to have them on your side as they are one of the biggest parts of your team! :)

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