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Student achievement is linked to numerous factors, but quality teachers are one of the most important components of student success. If a school district's teachers do not have the tools they need to teach students effectively, their students will suffer. To teach effectively, teachers need access to ongoing teacher professional development. This professional development enables teachers to improve their own education through seminars, workshops, and classes.
Through teacher professional development, teachers learn new teaching strategies to improve the quality of instruction. This allows them to make changes in the way they teach their students, incorporating innovative teaching methods in the classroom. It teaches them how to work with a variety of learning styles, since not all students learn the same way. It also helps teachers change their day-to-day teaching methods, encouraging them to accept new methods based on accurate education research.
Professional development usually takes place when school is not in session. Most teacher professional development occurs in the evening, on weekends, or during the summer. School districts also schedule professional development days throughout the school year. During these days, students are dismissed early from school or have a day off from school. This provides teachers, teaching assistants, and administrative staff the opportunity to participant in training and workshops.
Teacher professional development is sometimes criticized because it sometimes does not provide teachers with the time, information, and activities they need to make changes within the classroom. For this reason, some professional development involves training throughout the school year. Mentors and coaches who are considered experts in new teaching methods and strategies meet with teachers during classroom instruction or teacher planning time. This can help teachers use what they have learned in a real-world setting, building a bridge between new concepts and classroom instruction.
Effective teacher professional development is designed to strengthen teachers' knowledge of content. It is based on research and provides data that such new teaching methods culminate in improved student achievement. Teacher professional development should also closely align with a particular state's standards and the curriculum used by the school district.
Professional development should ideally be created by teachers with the support of those who work in the field of education research. All professional development should provide teachers with the necessary resources and support to implement changes in teaching strategies. Finally, professional development should provide teachers with the time they need to understand the new teaching methods and incorporate them in their teaching.