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Why Professional Development Matters & is Important for Teachers

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Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it. ~ Marian Wright Edelman

Every teacher wants to see their students succeed. It’s the one thing that drives them to excel in and out of the classroom – and the thing that motivates them when the going gets tough.

One of the most important aspects of teaching is learning. After all, a teacher who can’t learn is also a teacher who won’t be effective in the classroom. For that reason, Alludo has developed an interactive learning environment designed especially for educational professionals.

But why is professional development important for teachers? How does professional development improve teaching? Keep reading to get our take on these important questions.

Table of Contents

  1. Why is Professional Development Important for Teachers?
  2. What Do Teachers Really Want from Professional Learning?
  3. How Does Professional Development Improve Teaching?
  4. How Does Teacher Learning Affect Student Outcomes?
  5. Why Should Teachers Set Professional Goals?
  6. Alludo’s Take on Why Professional Development Matters

Why Professional Development is Important for Teachers

People who care about education agree that teachers should constantly be striving to improve at their jobs. Here are some of the reasons that the NEA lists to explain why teacher professional development is a must.

PD Importance for Teachers

Increases Knowledge Base

No educator, no matter how skilled and experienced, knows everything. There’s always room for growth. A robust system of effective professional development gives teachers new knowledge and skills that they will bring back to the classroom.

Because teaching is a constantly-evolving profession, it’s essential for teachers to keep their minds open and be willing to add to their knowledge.

Expands Understanding of Effective Teaching Practices

Teaching practices are constantly evolving as we learn more about kids’ brain development and abilities. It’s essential for teachers to stay up to date with new information and understand how our expanding knowledge about children’s brains impacts what they do in the classroom.

Learning a new teaching practice or theory can help teachers do a better job of connecting with students, including those students who may seem to be disengaged.

Helps Teachers Adapt to Changing Needs of Students

Just as our understanding of teaching continues to evolve, so do students’ needs. As the world changes, so do students’ perceptions and expectations. For example, how do teachers adapt their research requirements in a world where Google is at everybody’s fingertips? How do they combat false information spread on social media? These are just two examples but there are many more.

A good teacher must teach in the world where students live. That means adapting to everything from teaching digital natives to dealing with changing social views. Professional learning can help with all of this, ensuring teachers are equipped to meet the needs of their students.

Keeps Teachers Abreast of Curriculum Changes and Other Factors that Affect Students

Along with new teaching methods and new student needs and requirements, teachers must also stay on top of curriculum changes, new classroom formats, and any other factors that may affect students.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a good example because it illustrates why teachers need to be adaptive and agile. Practically overnight, teachers, administrators, and district employees at every level had to adapt to online learning, using new technology and new techniques to adapt to a changing environment.

What Do Teachers Really Want from Professional Learning?

It’s not uncommon for school districts to struggle to get teachers invested in professional learning. One reason is that sometimes, a professional development course for teachers can be dry and dull, requiring teachers to sit through presentations in a format they would never use with students. Let’s look at the things teachers actually want from professional learning.

Val Verde Case Study

Relevance to Their Time in the Classroom

The point of professional learning for teachers is to help improve their classroom performance and their ability to connect with students. Professional development opportunities that aren't directly relevant to their jobs aren't helpful and may build resentment among teachers.

Teachers want to learn new techniques and tools that they can bring with them into the classroom every day. The more practical professional learning is, the more likely it is that teachers will stay engaged and excited about doing it.

Respect for Their Time and Energy

There’s a common misconception that teachers have it easy because they’re in the classroom less than eight hours a day and they often have summers off. In fact, teachers work long hours outside of the classroom as well, developing lesson plans and grading papers. They put their hearts and souls into their jobs.

Professional development can’t be effective if teachers see it as being disrespectful of their time and energy, and that goes for administrators and support staff, too. 

Agency Over What They Study and How They Study It

One of the biggest issues that comes up when teachers talk about professional development is agency. Teachers don’t mind completing required coursework if it’s relevant to their time in the classroom, but they also want some choice in terms of what they study and when they study it.

Alludo offers online training that teachers can complete on their own schedule. Here’s what Sheryl Winter, an Educational Technologist at Springboro Schools, said about the issue of giving teachers agency.

“[Before Alludo], everybody came to a big PD [workshop] at the same time, and we didn’t have on-demand learning available for teachers across the district… It limited choices you could offer teachers.”

Teacher Professional Learning

It’s essential to give teachers some options to set their own course in professional learning. 

Ongoing Feedback and Recognition

Finally, teachers want recognition and feedback. They want to know that district and school leaders appreciate their hard work – and they want to know how they’re doing!

One of the most popular features of Alludo’s professional learning environment is the system of badges and rewards that we’ve put in place. Teachers can track their progress and get tangible rewards for their hard work.

How Does Professional Development Improve Teaching?

Professional development gives teachers the tools they need to do their jobs well. In a well-designed professional learning system, teachers and other staff reach new levels of skill. Andrea Cook, the Assistant Superintendent of Instruction at Springboro Schools, told us this.

“Alludo has been an absolute joy to have available to our staff. The biggest impact that we have seen [is]... the level of skill our teachers have and the amount of work they’ve put forth… through training with Amy and Sheryl and Alludo has really put us ahead of many districts in the state of Ohio.”

PD Improves Teaching

Let’s look at some of the specific ways that professional development can improve teaching.

Helps Teachers Individualize Attention to Students When Necessary

Each student in a classroom is an individual. That means teachers must get to know their students and have the skills and knowledge to individualize attention where it’s necessary.

With Alludo, teachers can pick and choose some of what they learn to help them give students the one-on-one attention they need. If one method doesn’t work to connect with a student, they can try another method because they’ve spent the time learning and they have those tools at their disposal.

Expands Knowledge of Teaching Methods and Strategies

A big part of professional learning for teachers is that it expands their knowledge of different teaching methods and strategies. The profession of teaching is changing constantly as new research and information comes to light, especially as it relates to kids’ brain development.

In an engaging professional development system, teachers can expand their knowledge and learn about new and improved ways to communicate with their students and get to the positive outcomes they deserve.

Educates Teachers on How Students Learn

Learning is an individual pursuit that happens in a group setting. It’s essential for teachers to understand how students learn. Some students are visual learners while others might need to hear something explained to understand it.

The right professional learning environment allows teachers to grasp the different ways that kids learn and bring that knowledge into the classroom.

Provides Coping and Organizational Strategies to Deal with Classroom Challenges

Even the best teachers have difficult days. That’s why it’s essential for them to have a collection of coping and organizational strategies to help them in the classroom.

Staff development can help teachers do their best work by ensuring they have a comprehensive toolbox of teaching tricks and strategies at their disposal.

Learner-Centered PD

How Does Teacher Learning Affect Student Outcomes?

The most significant impact of teacher learning is that it affects student learning as well. Whatever metrics school districts use to measure student achievement, whether the focus is on grades, standardized test scores, or college acceptance rates, teacher learning makes a difference.

Here are some of the most significant ways that teacher learning affects student outcomes:

  • It improves student engagement by providing teachers with new methods and strategies. Since no two students are identical, it stands to reason that a teacher with an array of teaching methods and strategies at their disposal will get better results than a teacher who lacks those tools.
  • It allows for more individual instruction. Some students require more attention than others and professional learning gives teachers the agility and flexibility to meet students where they are, giving them the individual attention they need to do well.
  • It helps students and teachers feel more connected and engaged with each other. When a teacher is an engaged student, they’re more likely to have engaged students. An effective professional development program can help teachers reconnect with their love of teaching and thus, with their students – and students feel the difference in the classroom.

Josh Lewis is the Director of Education-Information Technology at the Jurupa Unified School District. He told us this:

“It's remarkable how many things [our staff has] learned. The ultimate impact is our students, which I think is going to be felt for years to come.”

Student Outcomes

Why Should Teachers Set Professional Growth Goals?

Professional learning only works if teachers understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Setting professional goals with teachers can help them stay focused and meet the expectations of school districts. Goals help teachers in four key ways:

  1. Goals allow them to grow as teachers and professionals. While any professional learning may be seen as a good thing, setting goals allows teachers to work toward known outcomes, master new skills and teaching methods, and set themselves up for professional success.
  2. Goals allow teachers to meet school & district requirements. Every district has PD requirements for teachers and the right PD system can help school administrators to track teachers’ progress and ensure their compliance.
  3. Goals allow teachers to track their own progress and celebrate their successes. Receiving badges and rewards helps teachers to feel accomplished, recognized, and feel that they’ve made progress.
  4. Goals empower teachers to do their best. Most people work better when they’re motivated. With Alludo, teachers can compete against themselves and one another to learn new skills and improve their performance in the classroom.

Dave Doubravsky is the Assistant Superintendent of Education Services at the Jurupa Unified School District. He told us:

“The old ways of one-size fits all professional development just don't work. We get a lot of feedback – good or bad – and the feedback around this path [Alludo] has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Professional Growth Goals

Alludo’s Take on Why Professional Development Matters

At Alludo, we believe professional development for teachers is the key to providing kids with the positive outcomes they deserve. We know student outcomes are the single most important motivator for teachers, which is why we’ve designed a professional learning environment that gives teachers the choice to learn new skills and techniques that are directly relevant to their time in the classroom.

Give Your Teachers a Professional Learning Environment They’ll Love

It’s time to say goodbye to the old methods of professional development and embrace a new way of thinking about teaching. All educational professionals deserve to have a full array of tools at their disposal that they can use to connect with students, provide them with individualized attention and instruction, and help their students achieve the best possible outcomes. 

Alludo is here to help. With learner-centered and measurable PD, a system of feedback and recognition that learners love, and curated modules and curricula, we can help you to transform professional learning in your district into something that matters. Click here to request a personalized demo today.