What Are Obstacles to Professional Development for Teachers?


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What Are Obstacles to Professional Development for Teachers?

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What Are Obstacles to Professional Development for Teachers?

Navigating the complexities of teacher professional development presents unique challenges, as revealed by K-12 educators and organizational leaders. From tailoring PD to educator diversity to personalizing it for ongoing engagement, our six experts, including an English Language Teacher and a Director, provide actionable insights to overcome these hurdles.

  • Tailor PD to Educator Diversity
  • Find PD Relevance in Your Subject
  • Offer Flexible Learning Options
  • Differentiate Professional Development Training
  • Incorporate SEL Skills Training
  • Personalize PD for Ongoing Engagement

Tailor PD to Educator Diversity

One significant challenge in teacher professional development is ensuring that the training provided to teachers aligns with the diverse needs and backgrounds of educators. To mitigate this challenge, personalized learning approaches can be implemented, allowing teachers to engage in professional development tailored to their specific strengths, areas for growth, and the unique needs of their students.

Additionally, fostering a culture of collaboration and peer-to-peer learning can enhance professional development outcomes by allowing teachers to share strategies, resources, and experiences with one another.

Furthermore, integrating ongoing support and feedback into professional development programs can ensure that teachers receive continuous guidance and encouragement as they apply new knowledge and skills in their classrooms. Ultimately, by recognizing and addressing the individualized needs of teachers, professional development efforts can become more effective and impactful.

Aliza MashadiAliza Mashadi
K-12 English Language Teacher

Find PD Relevance in Your Subject

One of the major challenges I occasionally face during professional development sessions is that the topic may lack relevance for my subject matter or student profiles. However, I believe it’s important for teachers to challenge themselves to find relevance in what might initially seem irrelevant. By doing this, we can broaden our perspectives and potentially discover innovative ways to enhance our teaching.

For example, as an English teacher, I attended a professional development session on experiential learning, which initially didn’t seem relevant to my subject. However, after reflecting on the connections between experiential learning and real-world language arts applications, I organized a field trip to a local newspaper outlet. This experience allowed my students to see firsthand the role of writing, editing, and communication in a professional setting, thereby enriching their understanding of the practical applications of English.

Dylan CallensDylan Callens
Teacher and Blogger, The Teachers’ Blog

Offer Flexible Learning Options

Teachers are always juggling lesson plans, grading papers, and classroom chaos, all while trying to squeeze in some much-needed professional development. It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole—time just seems to slip away. But here’s the silver lining: Flexible learning options, like bite-sized online courses or quick micro-learning sessions, can be a game-changer.

It’s all about meeting teachers where they are, giving them the freedom to learn on their own terms, whether it’s during a lunch break or a quiet evening at home. So, instead of adding to their already overflowing plates, you can serve up opportunities for growth on a silver platter.

Andrew FayadAndrew Fayad
CEO, ELM Learning

Differentiate Professional Development Training

One major challenge in teacher professional development is the lack of individualization in training programs. Often, professional development is delivered in a one-size-fits-all format that may not address the specific needs, skills, or interests of every teacher.

To mitigate this, professional development should be differentiated, much like we differentiate instruction for students. By offering a variety of training modules and allowing teachers to select those that best fit their current skills and areas for growth, we can make professional development more relevant and effective.

Additionally, incorporating a feedback system where teachers can express their needs and experiences helps ensure that professional development is continuously adapted to meet their evolving needs. This approach enhances teacher engagement and leads to better implementation of new teaching strategies in the classroom.

Ryan HammillRyan Hammill
Executive Director, Ancient Language Institute

Incorporate SEL Skills Training

I started my social-impact career as a teacher to marginalized communities. Many teachers, including me, would strongly relate to the struggles faced in problem-solving everyday emotional challenges in the classroom.

Throughout my career, I’ve always observed teachers struggling with managing emotions, including their own and their students’. The lack of emotion regulation makes the job strenuous for the teacher.

When I transitioned to a managerial role co-leading teacher professional development, I prioritized incorporating social-emotional learning (SEL) skills to help teachers regulate their emotions as well as to better understand the emotional needs of their students.

In my experience, emotional dysregulation for teachers can be best mitigated by incorporating bite-sized and easy-to-implement training content. Additionally, it helps to have a teacher coach to assist the teacher in regulating emotions regularly. This will not only make the teacher less stressed but will also encourage them to be more mindful about the students’ emotional well-being, thus leading the class with empathy and understanding.

Tanisha GuinTanisha Guin
Career Coach, Learning Designer & Social Impact Manager

Personalize PD for Ongoing Engagement

In my experience, ensuring ongoing engagement and participation in teacher professional development poses a significant challenge. From my personal journey, I’ve found that addressing this requires providing personalized learning opportunities tailored to individual needs and interests.

At our company, we typically offer a variety of development options, including workshops, online courses, peer collaboration, and mentorship programs, empowering teachers to choose activities that resonate with their professional aspirations and learning preferences. Additionally, based on my expertise and knowledge, integrating technology and interactive learning methods can significantly enhance engagement and accessibility.

In our team, we usually provide ongoing support, recognition, and incentives for participation, serving as additional motivators for teachers to actively pursue their professional growth. Through these personalized approaches, we aim to enhance teaching practices and ultimately improve student outcomes.

Charles VeprekCharles Veprek
Director, It-Amg

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