Professional Develoment – a working definition

Step back five posts and you can trace the history of my personal learning and education; now it’s time to give a working definition of professional development. It’s a working definition because during the process of writing and exploring, there is a distinct possibility that my definition will expand or become more precise.

Refer back six posts to Adult Learning; Professional Development and you will perhaps understand my linking the two. In order to implement the second, knowledge of the first is required. And now for Professional Development –

Lifelong learning is beneficial both to the learner and to those with whom the learner interacts. Teachers benefit both professionally and personally if they are open to continued learning, and not just within their fields. In fact, it is important that they wander outside of their fields.

For those of us who teach, it is not just a matter of keeping up with content and pedagogy within our areas of expertise, but also challenging and stimulating ourselves to learn something different and in manners not consistent with our natural learning styles. For how else will we teachers remember to be empathetic to our students?

So my working definition of professional development goes as follows:

A true professional development implementation provides a range of experiences that meet the needs of the individuals while also challenging and stimulating them to go beyond their immediate needs.

Thus the experiences provided permit people to choose from skills support to pedagogy, while insisting they also visit areas outside their teaching domain, as well as areas that feed their creativity regardless of domain.

Perhaps a math teacher will take ceramics, a computer teacher drawing, a science teacher poetry, an english teacher wood working, a language teacher debating. The mixture and choices are very open-ended.

All of these endeavors will be supported by the institution (ie the administrators) as a reflection of the philosophy that teachers should also be learners.

If you have other definitions of professional development or what you believe makes for a strong professional development program, I encourage you to please leave your comments. Thanks.

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