Professional development is not a luxury — it is at the core of excellent teaching and learning, and it must be available at all stages of the educator’s career.
Doing the best for our students requires continuous professional growth for educators — when educators continue to learn, students benefit. Like professionals in any other field, STEM educators need to constantly improve their skills by keeping up with research-based content and pedagogy to learn the latest in best practices.
Professional development provides ongoing training for educators and administrators so they can enhance their abilities to help students achieve. It keeps them informed about new research on how children learn, new classroom technology and updated content.
In addition, educators need to analyze and reflect on their learning. Peer-to-peer coaching and collaboration during professional development can also provide opportunities for educators to learn from each other and reflect upon teaching practices.
The entire education community plays a role in supporting the high-quality professional development all educators need and deserve. Support across the educational spectrum results in better teaching, enhanced school leadership and higher student performance.
School boards, for example, should promote the idea of mandatory professional development and work to provide a budget to make this happen.
School administrators need to encourage and support their schools in providing professional development for their teams, and provide the time required for educators to learn what they need to know to maximize student success.
As for the educators who design and facilitate professional development, they must understand student learning needs, as well as what skills and tools educators require in order to meet these needs.
The key to educational reform, STEM education, and student success, begins with recognizing the educator as an essential professional in the process and making sure all educators receive the ongoing professional development that their position requires at each point in their career.