The Importance of Professional Development

By Victoria Jane Huish, Dance Education Graduate Student

The fifth and last bullet on my resume is titled, “Professional Development”. Under that title one can find a list of workshops, training seminars, and events I have attended in the last three years. Why did I find this important to include? Why should potential employers find value in this section of my resume? There may be many answers to both of these questions, but one clear answer to both is that as a future educator it is important to continue to educate and energize myself more to benefit my students’ learning.

Professional Development (PD) may happen in a variety of ways. Formally it can take place at a workshop, seminar, meeting, or conference. Informally it can occur through conversations, readings, observations or even feedback. The importance of PD is to become more educated in your desired profession (academic subjects, new technology, change in policy, etc.). As educators in the 21st century it is important to run toward PD for the gain of being educated rather than drag ourselves to them because they are either mandatory or will earn some physical (fiscal?) reward for attendance. With the Internet and increased technology in the classroom new ideas and tools are being explored and implemented every day. It is important to stay up to date.

PD is important to energize educators. One leader that comes to mind when I think of energy is the late CEO of Apple, Inc., Steve Jobs. Jobs gave keynote addresses to his company and customers to educate and excite them about new products and software being released. Being an apple user I was always looking forward to these new keynotes being released. It was common for the people in attendance of these presentations to cheer, clap, and laugh. He included visuals through video, power points, charts, and also the physical devices he would be talking about.  His presentation would include anticipation of the new technology explaining the need for them first, and then after revealing the products he would clearly explain how they would be used and why we need them in our everyday life.

PD events should share a lot of these qualities. PD should introduce educators to new ideas, teaching methods, structures, tools and technology that will benefit us every day in the classroom. PD should energize and excite educators about what it is they are teaching. PD should have clear presentations explaining the importance of the topic being shared and ideas of how to implement them in the class. After attending a PD event, educators should be as excited to take what they learned and apply it in their teaching as apple customers are about using the new technology that was released at each keynote.

When teachers return to their classrooms, the most important part of PD is applying these new ideas and teaching methods to benefit and energize the students It is important to personalize what was learned to help the individual classroom and students.

As educators we must always be looking to educate ourselves, but also look for ways we can help and teach our fellow colleagues. Also we must set an example to our students by continuing to learn and expand our knowledge. If something is working well in your classroom, consider taking on the role of Steve Jobs in your school, create a presentation for PD and energize and educate!