Teachers engage in the process of lifelong learning as a way to meet the needs of their students, respond to best practices in the literature and research and try to integrate the newly acquired approaches to support student learning. Some examples of lifelong learning, also known as professional development, may be attendance at a conference, mentoring (either as the mentee or mentor), joining a professional organization and conducting research. As an undergraduate student pursuing your Bachelors Degree in education you are immersed in a constant environment of learning.
Many school districts have a mentoring program for newly hired teachers. This is especially helpful for first-year teachers to have additional resources and support. Mentor teachers are there to help experienced teachers as well. Each district has its own processes, and mentors help navigate each process.
Activity: Think it, Ink it
Think it, Ink it (5 minutes) and divide into groups of 4-5 students and share your answers.
- As a first-year teacher what personal qualities would you hope for in a mentor?
- What specific type of information do you want your mentor to provide you with?
- How will you advocate for your needs as a first-year teacher/ mentee?
Report out to the class the results of the group’s conversation.
Resources for professional development and learning
At some level reflection on practice is something you must do for yourself, since only you have had your particular teaching experiences, and only you can choose how to interpret and make use of them. But this individual activity also may benefit from the stimulus and challenge offered by fellow professionals. Others’ ideas may differ from your own, and they can, therefore, help in working out your own thoughts and in alerting you to ideas that you may otherwise take for granted. These benefits of reflection can happen in any number of ways, but most fall into one of four general categories:
- talking and collaborating with colleagues
- participating in professional associations
- attending professional development workshops and conferences
- reading professional literature
Many teacher education preparation programs follow the INTASC Standards developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers. Standard nine outlines professional learning and ethical practice. Below you will find the exact excerpt from Standard 9. Notice Some of the relevant aspects are using data and evidence to support and evaluate classroom practices. Another key component to lifelong learning is engaging in ongoing reflective practice. Reflection is a hallmark of instructional leaders and assists teachers in meeting a diverse range of student needs.
Standard #9: Professional Learning and Ethical Practice
The teacher engages in ongoing professional learning and uses evidence to continually evaluate his/her practice, particularly the effects of his/her choices and actions on others (learners, families, other professionals, and the community, and adapts practice to meet the needs of each learner.
9(a) The teacher engages in ongoing learning opportunities to develop knowledge and skills in order to provide all learners with engaging curriculum and learning experiences based on local and state standards.
9(b) The teacher engages in meaningful and appropriate professional learning experiences aligned with his/her own needs and the needs of the learners, school, and system.
9(c) Independently and in collaboration with colleagues, the teacher uses a variety of data (e.g., systematic observation, information about learners, research) to evaluate the outcomes of teaching and learning and to adapt planning and practice.
9(d) The teacher actively seeks professional, community, and technological resources, within and outside the school, as supports for analysis, reflection, and problem-solving.
9(e) The teacher reflects on his/her personal biases and accesses resources to deepen his/her own understanding of cultural, ethnic, gender, and learning differences to build stronger relationships and create more relevant learning experiences.
9(f) The teacher advocates, models, and teaches safe, legal, and ethical use of information and technology including appropriate documentation of sources and respect for others in the use of social media.
9(g) The teacher understands and knows how to use a variety of self-assessment and problem-solving strategies to analyze and reflect on his/her practice and to plan for adaptations/adjustments.
9(h) The teacher knows how to use learner data to analyze practice and differentiate instruction accordingly.
9(i) The teacher understands how personal identity, worldview, and prior experience affect perceptions and expectations, and recognizes how they may bias behaviors and interactions with others.
9(j) The teacher understands laws related to learners’ rights and teacher responsibilities (e.g., for educational equity, appropriate education for learners with disabilities, confi dentiality, privacy, appropriate treatment of learners, reporting in situations related to possible child abuse).
9(k) The teacher knows how to build and implement a plan for professional growth directly aligned with his/her needs as a growing professional using feedback from teacher evaluations and observations, data on learner performance, and school- and systemwide priorities.
9(l) The teacher takes responsibility for student learning and uses ongoing analysis and reflection to improve planning and practice.
9(m) The teacher is committed to deepening understanding of his/her own frames of reference (e.g., culture, gender, language, abilities, ways of knowing), the potential biases in these frames, and their impact on expectations for and relationships with learners and their families.
9(n) The teacher sees him/herself as a learner, continuously seeking opportunities to draw upon current education policy and research as sources of analysis and reflection to improve practice.
9(o) The teacher understands the expectations of the profession including codes of ethics, professional standards of practice, and relevant law and policy
- How do you plan to integrate reflection into your practice as a teacher?
- How does reflection connect to teacher induction and mentor programs?