Professional Development in Today’s World
A new era of Professional Development is getting closer. English is truly the lingua franca of today’s interconnected world. For people who are looking for opportunities to travel, to grow professionally or simply establish a common ground with others, it is a necessity to learn the language. So, if there are so many people learning English, there is almost a proportional increase of English teachers. We are spread out far and wide. We are all teaching for many reasons, but at the end of the day, we all have the same goal: to teach our students English.
If this is the case, it won’t matter our background or why we are teaching, rather what we can do to become the best possible teachers to improve our students’ performance. This is where institutions usually turn to Professional Development (PD) as a tool to implement strategies that can improve the whole learning experience for both teachers and students. PD is the set of strategies that are put in place by the institution to accomplish this, including conferences, seminars, and workshops. In this traditional professional development setting the development happens to the teachers, whereas in Professional Learning (PL) the teachers own their process.
I started to become curious about professional development and as I investigated I found this post that put things into perspective, Professional Development Vs. Professional Learning. It’s a great read and gives relevant tips as to how leaders and teachers can approach PL.
Although PD continues to be widespread at institutions, schools, and universities around the world, there is a need for more. PD is mostly organized and tracked by leaders within institutions to comply with the needs of the institution itself to improve students’ performance, but more often than not the teacher’s’ individual needs are not taken into account.
What is Professional Learning?
Even though we may sometimes forget, teachers are also learners. When it comes to our profession we have become accustomed to sitting in conferences and workshops. We haven’t taken an active role in our development process. It’s not anyone’s fault. It’s simply the way things are done… until now.
More and more institutions are starting to feel the need to make a drastic change in their in-service training. As they explore the alternatives, Professional Learning is making it’s way to the top. PL is a way to motivate everyone involved in the learning process.
What does Professional Learning look like?
PL usually takes place in a network or community. You can take part in online PLCs (Professional Learning Community) or PLNs (Professional Learning Network). Although schools and institutes could easily create a community within their organization. Independent of if it’s virtual or in real life, the principles are the same. A haven to share experiences, grow and learn.
How to get started with PL?
- Align goals: Make sure you consider your professional learning goals, as well as the institute’s.
- Keep track: The only way to know if you are truly learning is by measuring your progress. In a PLN a teacher’s progress is measured through student performance.
- Give it time: If you go out and start implementing everything today, the results won’t be noticeable right away. Be patient and don’t give up in the middle of the process.
- Make it ongoing: By participating in a PLN you can ensure you continuously find ways to explore PL activities.
- Build a support system: If you are part of a PLN, make sure you create a habit of sharing feedback and ideas with colleagues.
- Find active learning opportunities: PL is all about an active teacher role, so live up to it. You are the one that must go out and find opportunities to learn more about teaching.
- Collaborate: One of the foundations of PL is collaboration. Share your thoughts on teaching and ask others to do the same.
- Have a growth mindset: Be prepared to recognize you don’t know everything about teaching. Keep an open mind about learning new teaching strategies, techniques, and methods.