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5 Professional Development Secrets for Improvement

Janelle Cox

You have all heard of the popular saying “There is always room for improvement.” This holds true in pretty much everything that you do in your life. When it comes to your teaching career, you may have spent years or even decades using professional development to perfect your craft. However, there is always room for you to use professional development tactics to learn and grow. As teachers we are always looking for new ways to engage our students and make them better learners, but how often do we take the time to step back and look at how we can use professional development to become better educators?

The success of our students begins and ends with us, the teachers. We are the ones who need to equip our students with the knowledge and skills that will help them navigate their way through this ever-changing 21st century that we live in. 

Here are five effective teaching strategies that will help you sharpen your skills and become a better teacher so that you can maximize student potential and transcend student learning into the next generation.

1. Professional Development: Reconsider Your Role as an Educator

Your perception of what you thought your role was as an educator may have changed since you started teaching. In order to help you become a better teacher, you may have to take a step back and look at what your role in the classroom is today.

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Traditionally, the role of a teacher has always been to help students apply concepts like mathematics and science through classroom instruction and presentations. While this still holds true in today’s classrooms, an educator is much more than just someone who lectures content. Your role is to execute lesson plans, incorporate technology, differentiate activities, and be the classroom disciplinarian, be the surrogate parent to the students, as well as the class mentor and role model. These are just a few of the many characteristics of an educator. Once you realize what your true role is, then you may find it to be easier for you to take on all aspects of it.

2. Keep up with the Latest in the Tech World

Part of the 21st century teacher’s job description is to keep up with the latest in educational technology. In order to be a successful teacher, you must know what is new and what will help keep the interest of your students. With technology growing at a rapid pace, it is essential for you to keep on top of the newest gadget that will help your students learn better and faster.

3. Gain Wisdom and Insight by Learning

If you want to improve and grow as a teacher then one of the best ways that you can do that is by reading an educational book. Some of the best books for educators are the ones that delve into subjects that give great insight to topics that will transform the way we think. Books like “The Courage to Teach,”Creating Innovators,” and “Don’t Count me Out” are all extraordinary books that help you gain wisdom and insight so that you can become a better teacher.

4. Revisit Your Educational Philosophy

When you were in college, you were asked to write your educational philosophy. This philosophy has most likely been in your teaching portfolio and has never been looked at or changed since. Now is the time to take it back out and revisit your stance on what you think and how you feel about education. You may still feel the same way, or you may find that your thoughts and ideas have changed dramatically. By revisiting your educational philosophy, you may find that you have a new take on teaching. This is a great way to help you become a better teacher.

5. Take Time for Yourself

Do you want to know the number one secret to becoming a better a teacher? It’s by taking time for yourself. This may sound like one of the simplest things that you can do, but for many it’s the hardest. Teachers tend to be selfless, which means they put everyone and everything in front of their own personal needs. While this may sound like an amazing characteristic to have, it can undoubtedly give you teacher burnout.

If you want to become a better teacher, then you must take some “Me time” each day to do something for yourself. Whether it’s reading a book, listening to music, going for a jog, or for a quick shopping trip, all you need is about 30 minutes to an hour to rejuvenate each day. You need to learn how to unwind and de-stress in order to be the teacher you have always wanted to be. Take time to mediate, listen to music, do yoga, go for a walk, get some sunlight, talk with your friends, or exercise. Eat lunch with your colleagues and talk about something other than school. Once you find that special “Thing” that helps you unwind, then will find that it will help you avoid teacher burnout and ultimately become a better teacher.

What kinds of the things do you do to help you become a better teacher? Please share your ideas in the comment section below. You never know, your idea may be just the thing that a fellow educator needs to help them become a better teacher.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.