Career Advice: Career Development Tips For Education Fields

Whether it's voluntary or compulsory, there are numerous opportunities, both formal and informal, for career development in the education profession.

Professional development is a buzzword in the field of education. Sometimes, it's required as a condition of state certification. In other cases, it's simply encouraged by individual schools. Whether it's voluntary or compulsory, there are numerous opportunities for career development in the education profession.

CLASSES

Many teachers turn to formal classes for professional development. Whether you take a single class or go for additional degrees, you will be involved in reflective work and important discussions that can impact your classroom the very next day. College classes accommodate a wide variety of interests from general education-related classes to advanced courses in specific subjects. And under many teaching contracts, earning specific amounts of credits can move you up the pay scale. The downside of university coursework is that it is very expensive.

WORKSHOPS

When you just want to work on specific skills, a workshop can provide a focused learning opportunity. Whether you're learning a specific computer program or discussing learning theories, spending a few hours or an entire day devoted solely to educating yourself in a specific area can rejuvenate your teaching.



PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

No matter what your individual specialization there is a state and national organization for you. All professional organizations publish some form of newsletter and/or magazine, which can help you keep abreast of the latest issues, trends and developments in your field. Professional organizations also provide great networking opportunities, whether through face-to-face encounters at conferences and conventions or virtual connections on list-servs and message boards.

OBSERVATIONS

Another way to grow as a professional is to take a few hours from your regular schedule to observe another class, whether in your own school or a neighboring district. You'll gain a new perspective and perhaps pick up a few new tricks. Are you the only Spanish teacher at your school? Ask to spend a day at a nearby school to get a glimpse of their foreign language program. Are you a special education teacher? Ask if you can observe your students in their other classes for a new perspective. Tailor the experience to your needs.

READINGS

One way to develop yourself professionally that doesn't require planning and scheduling is to read books and articles on the field of education. Think about what you are most interested in learning or what you need to know in your classroom right now and search out a book or several articles on the topic. It's education that you want, when you need it most.

If you don't want to spend a lot of money on your readings, the public library can be quite helpful. Or see if your school library has a professional development collection. You could also gather like-minded teachers and create an educational reading discussion group.

If you're having trouble deciding what to read, one way of seeing what books are hot in the field of education is to see what college education courses are using as their textbooks. Check for an online syllabus or a required reading list at a college bookstore. This can clue you in to the hottest new theoretical work or the inspirational memoir that everyone wants to read.

Professional organizations can also be useful in providing reading material. As mentioned before, they regularly publish newsletters and magazines, but many also have their own bookstore division with publications that come highly recommended. They can take some of the guesswork out of choosing a new book.

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