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

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Melissa Fiedler's picture
Anonymous (not verified)


I share your opinion regarding helping the new teachers. I have been teaching for fourteen years, and I have been fortunate enough to have several student teachers. I have witnessed a few colleagues who threw their student teachers to the wolves. They literally gave their student teachers their seating charts and left for the lounge. They operated under the philosophy that "no one helped me". A few of the novice teachers under my tuteledge lacked strong classroom management skills. Instead of leaving him/her to sink, I stayed in the room, observed the lesson, and discussed options with him/her after the lesson. Each session, I noticed that novice teacher grow more confident and mature. A mentor teacher's role is an enormous responsibility and not one that educators should take lightly. We can ensure success for all by helping new teaches learn the tricks of the trade. Our professional responsibility is to share our learning experiences. We are the experts of the trade.

ben kulbartz's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I am reading Nieto's book now, and I was really struck by the stories of teachers who work as partners, or in a cluster. It is such an important part of the job, and many commented that they probably wouldn't be able to do it without the support of their colleagues. One teacher commented that having a student teacher as a partner kept her going because it helped her remember why she started teaching. I also agree with you that sometimes teachers don't collaborate enough when they come back from conferences or workshops. Many times I want to hear what one of my colleagues may have learned, but I never get the chance.

Shirley Neumann's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree with you on the importance of training and supporting new teachers and also making sure experienced teachers continue in their education. I remember how it was sink or swim experience during my first year of teaching. However, there is one pitfall new teachers have to watch out for. A new teacher needs to be willing to learn and not try to act like she knows what she is doing when she does not know something. She needs to take feedbacks with a good attitude and ask lots of questions.

Stacey's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I find that my district moves quickly to something new. We spent one year focusing on Marzano's strategies and ways to use them in the classroom. I found it very informative and useful. However, the next year the focus was putting rigor and relevance into lessons. While that too is helpful, I am still trying to get the Marzano strategies embedded in my teaching. Teachers need more time to absorb the new information and reflect on its use.

Rick de Jaager's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree that teacher education should focus on subject matter. However, student teachers should have more time in the class room. As the article points out new teachers do not often have great supervision or support. Therefore, we should provide them with more class room experience before they begin. They will not be prepared for every situation, but they may be more comfortable taking control on their first day.

Rick de Jaager's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I think continuous training is definately a large factor in keeping teachers in the profession. However, I think teacher training programs need to focus on getting student teachers even more classroom time. During my first year I felt unprepared to deal with many situations. Perhaps with more real experience to reflect on I would have felt less overwhelmed. I am not saying that we can prepare someone for every situation. I just think that the more experience someone has before their first day the better off they will be.

Lauren Stanco's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I agree we need to stress the importance of training and supporting new teachers as well as the old. We just discussed this in my online course about the fact that no teacher is truly an expert teacher because the world of education is costanly changing and we are constly learning. As a teacher you are right we need to always act as if we know what we are doing and take risks within the classroom. Also it is important to recieve feedback adn be able to use it for reflection instead of looking at it from a negative point of you!

Lauren Stanco's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I believe that as teachers we need to come together and communicate not just with our teams but with teachers from all over. We should have many outlets to go to and discuss different topics. I feel that this is very important and helps us grow as teachers. When teachers come together and share ideas, thoughts, lessons, challenges and so on this allows us to learn and grow together. We can communicate on so many levels and through so many ways. I pesonally love my team meetings, popping in to observe other teachers, workshops, and confrences. I think all of these things allow me to become stronger and wiser as a teacher.

Marlena Wims's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I do agree that content should be focused on in teacher development; however, this should not be the only focus. Teacher development should also focus on relationship skills. If you have a great relationship with your students, they will be willing to do work that they don't view as important, just to make the teacher happy. They will respect teachers and other classmates as well.

Jes Monzo's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I believe that teacher development should be content based as well. Depending on what your area of specialization is, should have an impact on what the professional development program should be. I agree with the focus on relationship skills but I just think that content should take preference.

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