Methods of Professional Growth for Teachers

Professional Development and Growth Ideas for Teachers

Teachers Meeting in the Library

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Teachers must continue to grow in their profession. Thankfully, there are many avenues open for professional growth and development. The purpose of the following list is to give you ideas into ways that you can grow and develop as teachers regardless of your current level of experience.

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Books on the Teaching Profession

You will find a quick way to learn new methods for lesson preparation, organization, and effective classroom systems in books. You can read books that provide inspirational and moving stories to help motivate you as you teach as well as tips on surviving and thriving in the profession. Some examples include "The First-Year Teacher’s Survival Guide: Ready-To-Use Strategies, Tools & Activities for Meeting the Challenges of Each School Day" by Julia G. Thompson and "The Courage to Teach" by Parker J. Palmer. Websites such as The Best Education Degrees and We Are Teachers offer suggested lists of books that can inspire you and help you improve your craft.

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Professional Development Courses

Professional development courses are a great way to find out the latest research in education. Courses on topics like brain research and assessment creation can be very enlightening. Further, subject-specific courses like History Alive! by the Teachers Curriculum Institute provide American history teachers with ideas for lesson enhancements for middle school students. Some of these can be pricey or require a minimum number of participants. You should approach your department head and administration if you hear of a course that would be great to bring to your school district. Alternatively, online professional development courses are on the rise and provide you more flexibility in terms of when you actually do the work.

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Additional College Courses

College courses provide teachers with more in-depth information on the topic chosen. Many states provide teachers with incentives for completing additional college courses. For example, in the state of Florida, college courses provide teachers with a means to be recertified, according to the Florida Department of Education. They might also provide you with monetary and tax incentives, so check with your state's Department of Education.

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Reading Well-Established Websites and Journals

Established websites provide wonderful ideas and inspiration to teachers. For example, Teachers of Tomorrow, a company that offers a teacher certification program, offers a nice (and free) list of the 50 top websites for teachers. Additionally, professional journals can also help enhance lessons throughout the curriculum.

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Visiting Other Classrooms and Schools

If you know of a great teacher at your school, arrange to spend a little time observing them. They don't even have to teach in your subject area. You can pick up different ways to deal with situations and to help with basic housekeeping tasks. Additionally, visiting other schools and seeing how other teachers present their lessons and deal with students can be very enlightening. It's easy to get into a rut and start to believe that there is only one way to teach a given subject. However, seeing how other professionals handle the material can be a real eye-opener.

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Joining Professional Organizations

Professional organizations like the National Education Association or the American Federation of Teachers provide members with resources to help them in and out of the classroom. Also, many teachers find associations specific to their subject matter give them a wealth of material to help build and enhance lessons. Some of the organizations aimed toward teachers of specific subjects include:

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Attending Teaching Conferences

Local and national teaching conferences occur throughout the year. Examples include The American Association for Teaching & Curriculum annual conference or the Kappa Delta Pi Annual Convocation. See if one is going to be near you and try and attend. Most schools will give you the time off to attend if you promise to present the information. Some might even pay for your attendance, depending on the budgetary situation. Check with your administration. The individual sessions and keynote speakers can be truly inspirational.