Teachersjust like doctors or lawyersmust keep
up with new developments in their field. What a veteran teacher
taught 20 years ago may be lost in todays classroom.
Chances are good you would not schedule an appointment with
a doctor who ignored the latest advancements in medicine or
hire an attorney who failed to keep up with changes in the
law. Why should we expect any lesser standard from the teacher
we entrust our children to during the school year?
Parents may think: They have a degree in education
so they know everything there is to know to teach my child.
But just like any other profession, you have to stay current.
New research comes out regularly informing us about what
kids have to learn. SEDL Programming Manager
Teaching has been slow to catch up with other professions
that build on-the-job training into the workday. For too long,
teachers have focused largely on what goes on in their classrooms,
without any time left over to compare notes and learn from
each other. Thats changing. The time teachers spend
meeting regularly with their colleagues during the school
year to critique what worked and what didnt in the classroom
is paying off for children. Teachersjust like studentslearn
better when they collaborate.
Researchers say that good professional development:
takes place during the regular school calendar;
provides opportunities for hands-on practice and reflection;
fosters more collaboration and team work with other teachers
and the principal.
Parent Maria Robles says she doesnt mind when a substitute
occasionally fills in for her childrens teachers who
are receiving professional development. Teachers get
a lot of training. It strengthens my belief in the principal
because he obviously cares about the kids enough to help the
teachers get better educated.
Robles, who volunteers at Canutillo Elementary, says she
sees the results of teacher professional development first
hand. Im in school a lot. I hear teachers talk
a lot about what they want to do in the classroom, what they
have learned. They sound excited and its wonderful to
Terry Ortiz knows collaborating with his colleagues has made
him a better teacher. This is really an opportunity
to get some true feedback and to work with other people instead
of just being isolated in your classroom, says Ortiz.
Principal Vicki Baldwin of Garza High School in Austin, Texas,
says her teachers were uncomfortable with the idea of professional
development at first. But Baldwin was determined to push her
teachers to think differently, to think in ways that would
benefit their students.
Ive always been a proponent of professional development,
says Baldwin. You always need new skills and you are
much more effective if you collaborate with other teachers.
I asked teachers to be more flexible, to work together. They
needed new skills to do that.
Ten Tips for Parents: Help Your Child Learn
Talk with your childs teacher about what
he or she will learn and be expected to do during
the school year.
Find out how you can help your child with school-related
projects at home.
Make learning a priority in your home by providing
a time and place for children to study.
Visit your childs classroom to learn more
about the instructors teaching style.
Ask your childs teacher for updates on how
he/she is doing and where he or she might need help.
Learn more about what your childs teacher
is doing to keep his or her teaching skills
Take advantage of community resources such as the
library, after-school tutoring, field trips and
summer camps that encourage learning.
Get involved with your child in community, school
and volunteer activities.
Look into different colleges or read about interesting
careers together. Visit a college
campus or a job site with your child.
Turn off the television and talk with your child
about current events, books or movies