Effective teaching requires the educator to continuously learn new things and sharpen old skills. As an educational leader, you must support continuing education. You have many training materials for teachers at your disposal. Use them. The "Los Angeles Times" recently reported on a study conducted by the National Council on Teacher Quality. It states that, "Too few aspiring classroom teachers receive the training and support they need to be effective." This elevates your obligation to ensure your teachers become shining stars in their classrooms. After all, having an ill-equipped teacher on your team is almost as bad as still using a chalkboard. It's time to upgrade, seriously.
The Educational Leader
The most important training resource a teacher has is you, her leader. Throughout a teacher's career, she needs to attend a variety of professional development classes to learn the latest teaching strategies. You make this happen. She needs one-on-one evaluations so she can better realize what works and what doesn't. You must ensure she remains aware of emerging student issues through seminars focusing on such issues as safety, bullying and drug abuse. In addition, her training should advance as technology advances. For example, training in computer technology should accompany the replacing of textbooks with electronic tablets.
Providing online training materials is an excellent approach to continuing education. Some colleges even offer this support by supplying training aids broken down from human development to how to better handle the first day of school. Some topics refresh teachers on technical skills such as preparing a syllabus or lesson plan. Also, districts that use an online classroom program for their primary curriculum usually offer sections on professional development for teachers.
Consider planning a teacher workshop or conference. They provide interactive lessons and teamwork exercises. Training materials usually include the staple items such as binders, pens, notepads and handouts. Conferences work the same as workshops, but the instructional resources should include slide show presentations. Depending on the subject, you can provide content-specific materials. For example, you might provide beakers, gloves and other materials for a science workshop demonstrating science experiments. If you need help in planning an event such as this, you can hire professionals who make a living off the workshop circuit.
A seminar is a somewhat formal gathering led by a subject matter expert. You might consider this option if you need a serious tone. For example, training on bullying doesn't pair well with a fun workshop. You also can conduct training via a webinar, the online version of a seminar. Seminars and webinars are generally shorter than workshops. Choose these methods for in-depth discussion on a single topic that doesn't need a hands-on component. For example, you can discuss gun violence in a seminar, but you can't walk teachers around the school while training them on how to evade a gunman.
An educational leader can provide a recommended reading list to her teachers. This list usually consists of nonfiction self-help books designed to broaden a teacher's perspective. You also can make this mandatory by selecting the book and conducting periodic book club meetings. Make it fun. Have your teachers apply the literature to their own experiences. This makes for a lively discussion.
The training materials you provide will probably vary depending on your teachers' status. For example, you might provide exercises in goal-setting to a new teacher. You might assign a veteran teacher to help her learn the ropes. You might first send that same veteran teacher to a seminar on leadership. The bottom line in training is always remember to be flexible, creative and balanced.
- Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development: ASCD Webinars
- University of Hawaii: Teaching Tools
- Edgenuity: Professional Development
- Developing Minds: Workshops, Institute & Online Courses
- Self Growth:What’s the Difference Between a Seminar, Workshop and Conference?; Jenny Hamby
- L.A. Times: A Better Way To Train Teachers; Eli Broad; July 2013
Michelle Dwyer is a U.S. Army veteran writing fiction and nonfiction since 2003. She specializes in business, careers, leadership, military affairs and organizational change and behavior. Dwyer received an MBA from Tarleton State University/Texas A&M Central Texas and an MFA in creative writing from National University in La Jolla, Calif.