It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to be an effective teacher. Like other careers, there are those who are more natural at it than others. Even those with the most natural teaching ability must put in the time necessary to cultivate their innate talent. Personal growth and development is a critical component that all teachers must embrace in order to maximize their potential.
There are several different ways that a teacher can enhance their personal growth and development. Most teachers will use a combination of these methods to solicit valuable feedback and information that will guide their teaching career. Some teachers may prefer one method over another, but each of the following has been proven to be valuable in their overall development as a teacher.
Earning an advanced degree in an area within education is a fantastic way to gain a fresh perspective. It is also a excellent way to learn about the newest educational trends. It provides tremendous networking opportunities, can lead to a pay increase, and allows you to specialize in an area where you may have more interest. Going this route is not for everyone. It can be time consuming, costly, and sometimes overwhelming as you try to balance the other aspects of your life with those of earning a degree. You must be organized, self-motivated, and adept at multi-tasking to use this as a successful way to improve yourself as a teacher.
Advice/Evaluations from Administrators
Administrators by nature should be excellent resources of advice for teachers. Teachers should not be afraid to seek help from an administrator. It is essential that administrators are accessible for teachers when they need something. Administrators are typically experienced teachers themselves who should be able to provide a wealth of information. Administrators, through teacher evaluations, are able to observe a teacher, identify strengths and weaknesses, and offer suggestions that when followed will lead to improvement. The evaluation process provides natural collaboration where the teacher and administrator can ask questions, exchange ideas, and offer suggestions for improvement.
Experience is perhaps the greatest teacher. No amount of training can truly prepare you for the adversity that a teacher can face in the real world. First year teachers often wonder what they have gotten themselves into over the course of that first year. It can be frustrating and disheartening, but it does become easier. A classroom is a laboratory and teachers are chemists constantly tinkering, experimenting, and mixing things up until they find the right combination that works for them. Each day and year brings about new challenges, but experience allows us to adapt quickly and make changes ensuring that things continue to operate efficiently.
Journaling can provide valuable learning opportunities through self reflection. It allows you to capture moments in your teaching career that may be beneficial to reference at other points along the way. Journaling does not have to take a lot of your time. 10-15 minutes a day can provide you with a lot of valuable information. Learning opportunities arise almost daily, and journaling allows you to encapsulate these moments, reflect on them at a later time, and make adjustments that can help you become a better teacher.
There is an over abundance of books and periodicals dedicated to teachers. You can find a plethora of terrific books and periodicals to help improve in any area you may struggle with as a teacher. You can also find several books and periodicals that are inspirational and motivational in nature. There are excellent content driven books and periodicals that can challenge how you teach critical concepts. You will probably not agree with every facet of every book or periodical, but most offer sensational tidbits that we can apply to ourselves and to our classrooms. Asking other teachers, talking to administrators, or doing a quick online search can provide you with a good list of must read literature.
Mentoring can be an invaluable tool for professional growth and development. Every young teacher should be paired with a veteran teacher. This relationship can prove to be beneficial for both teachers so long as both sides keep an open mind. Young teachers can lean on a veteran teacher’s experience and knowledge while veteran teachers can gain a fresh perspective and insight into the newest educational trends. A mentoring program provides teachers with a natural support system where they are able to seek feedback and guidance, exchange ideas, and vent at times.
Professional Development Workshops/Conferences
Professional development is a mandatory component of being a teacher. Every state requires teachers to earn a certain number of professional development hours each year. Great professional development can be critical to the overall development of a teacher. Teachers are presented with professional development opportunities covering varying topics throughout the course of each year. Great teachers recognize their weaknesses and attend professional development workshops/conferences to improve these areas. Many teachers commit a portion of their summer to attending professional development workshops/conferences. Workshops/conferences also provide teachers with invaluable networking opportunities that can further enhance their overall growth and improvement.
Technology is changing the face of education inside and outside of the classroom. Never before have teachers been able to make the global connections that they are able to make now. Social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and Pinterest have created a global exchange of ideas and best practices amongst teachers. Personal Learning Networks (PLN) are providing teachers with a new avenue for personal growth and development. These connections provide teachers with a vast array of knowledge and information from other professionals across the globe. Teachers struggling in a particular area are able to ask their PLN for advice. They quickly receive responses with valuable information they can use for improvement.
Observations should be a two way street. Doing the observing and being observed are equally valuable learning tools. Teachers should be open to allowing other teachers in their classroom on a regular basis. It is necessary to note that this will not work if either teacher is egotistical or easily offended. Every teacher is different. They all have their individual strengths and weaknesses. During observations, the observing teacher is able to take notes detailing the other teacher’s strength and weaknesses. Later they can sit down together and discuss the observation. This provides a collaborative opportunity for both teachers to grow and improve.
The Internet provides unlimited resources to teachers with the click of a mouse. There are millions of lesson plans, activities, and information available online for teachers. Sometimes you have to filter everything to find the highest quality content, but search long enough and you will find what you are looking for. This instant access to resources and content makes teachers better. With the Internet, there is no excuse for failing to provide your students with the highest quality lessons. If you need a supplemental activity for a particular concept, you can find likely find it quickly. Sites like YouTube, Teachers Pay Teachers, and Teaching Channel offer quality educational content that can improve teachers and their classrooms.