The profession of the teacher requires continuing our development in order to always become better at what we do. What is the best way to do so?

By Theodora Papapanagiotou

So you decide to become a teacher, you finish school, you go to university, graduate and then you are ready to go. Right? I don’t think so. Once you get into the class, there is a brand new world in front of you. And although you have studied to become a teacher, there are a lot of things that you don’t actually know. That’s where Continuing Professional Development comes in. Because you have to learn how to deal with the loud kid, you have to learn how to do research, you have to learn how to make your lessons more interesting and you have to keep learning. You have to be updated.

Fortunately, we live in an era, where opportunities to learn are much easier to find. So how do we continue to develop professionally? How do we acquire new skills? First of all you can enroll yourself in a college or University and continue your studies. Or even study something new. In order to do that, though, you have to have the time (and the money) to devote. This means that you either work, study and quit sleep or you cut from your working hours in order to learn something more.

If you can’t continue studying full time, there are plenty of seminars, workshops, conventions that you could go to and get some more ideas for your teaching / research / time management etc. This is a convenient way, since these usually last for a specific number of days and they are relatively cheap compared to a post-graduate degree. Plus you meet new people, exchange opinions and have the feeling that you belong somewhere. There are various local teacher associations around the world that help teachers in a lot of ways, not only regarding their professional development, but also give support and help whenever it is needed.

Another way to get more knowledge is using technology. Nowadays you can do everything and not even leave the comfort of your own home. You can continue your studies, attend online conventions and webinars, take part in online workshops, do online courses, learn something new and all this in your pyjamas. You can attend talks and lectures from people all around the world, something you would otherwise not be able to do, considering distance and expenses. There are also online associations, social media special interest groups, online forums, online chats and this gives you the chance to meet people, again exchange views, even organize projects with students and teachers all around the world.

Some people believe that they don’t need further professional development. I will disagree. I believe that with all the chances we have in our time, it would be unwise not to take advantage of them What is the best way to develop though depends on the person, what is offered, what are the person’s interests and how they would like to develop. A combination of both online and face to face would be ideal, since you get the chance to meet and learn from people who are both close and not close to you. This is what I personally practice and so far I am completely satisfied.

How about you?

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