Teachers are key in educating our children and as a Teacher you will have already gone through years of study and training. However, in a world where technology, ideas, and society itself are constantly changing, ongoing professional development is essential for those in education jobs.
The Education World of Work
As a Teacher you need to have a deep understanding of your subject or subjects, as well as the skills to deliver that knowledge to your pupils at a level appropriate to their age and ability.
However, education jobs are not only about passing on your subject knowledge, they are also about giving young people the tools and skills needed to prepare them for their own futures. As you progress in your teaching career you will continue to develop a wide spectrum of other skills necessary to stay in touch with the children you are teaching, from technology to wellbeing to Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
As a Teacher you need to be able to analyse your own teaching practice to continually update and improve on your approach, as well as updating your skills and knowledge. Learning for teachers is a continuous process, just as it is for pupils.
Emerging Skills in Education Jobs
With the ever-changing ways in which we communicate and the increased focus on technology and remote learning, those in education jobs need to adapt their teaching methods to include the ways in which pupils have now become accustomed to receiving information.
Technology now plays a very significant role in children’s education, so it is important to keep up-to-date with the latest advances. Teachers must learn to use the various software available for specific subject areas and as a means of communication. Google Classroom, Zoom, Tapestry, Loom and Edulink, are just some of the programmes now widely used in schools around the country.
As a Teacher, it is important to understand how children learn as they develop and how different learning materials, techniques and methods can be used. There are numerous Open Education Resources (OER) available online that can be used by Teachers, from complete lesson plans and syllabi to worksheets and quizzes, to instructional modules and videos. BBC Bitesize, Twinkl and Tes are just a few examples.
There may be a need to gain specialist teaching skills, especially for Teachers working with SEND children. The past year has emphasised the need for Teachers to bring the concept of mindfulness and wellbeing into the classroom, to help pupils deal with the effects of the pandemic. Additionally, in today’s society, language skills can also be helpful. Just a few words in a child’s native language or knowing the basics of sign language helps all pupils feel included.
Communication, listening, group management and leadership are all transferable skills that you may have acquired in a previous job or through volunteer work outside of teaching. Continually developing all these skills will really benefit you and your pupils in the classroom.
Top Tips for Learning
There are opportunities for lifelong learning in all education jobs. Passive learning is an integral part of teaching. Every day you learn through using different teaching methods, seeing what works best with different pupils and classes. You may also find that you learn from the pupils themselves.
Learning from other Teachers and senior staff members is also inherent to the job. This can be formal training delivered through meetings and workshops, or informal learning through sharing ideas and observing other classes. Your school may also have opportunities for further development through teacher training courses offsite, where you can gain further knowledge and skills through a specialised programme taught by external instructors.
You may be great at teaching others, but with all your other responsibilities you may not prioritise teaching yourself. As someone in the education profession you will be familiar with many learning techniques that you use in the classroom with your pupils, but from the Teacher perspective. Think about yourself as the learner and how you can incorporate those same techniques to assist your own learning.
You may feel like you already have a full schedule with no time for learning, so switch it up. Creating new habits, including learning, stand a far better chance at success if we get out of our usual routines.
Career development requires a commitment so learning needs to be a priority. Make time for your own studies in and around your other work and responsibilities.
In amongst your busy workload, you need to be realistic about how much you can learn and when. Small, manageable chunks work best, so break things down by topic and work through them bit by bit.
With easy connectivity pretty much anywhere these days, you can take your laptop wherever you like. So leave your desk and head to the local library, a favourite coffee shop or even to the beach or the park. A change of scene could make learning easier and more enjoyable.
You are in charge of your own professional development, so use the resources that suit you best. That may be reading books, taking a course online, listening to podcasts or going to a class with an instructor.
The theory is just one part of learning, putting it into practice is what really tests your new knowledge and helps you remember it. Use the skills you have learnt in the classroom as much as possible.
Consider studying with a colleague to learn new skills. It can be helpful to work together to understand new concepts. You can also use your teaching community to ask for a helping hand with anything you are unsure about. Share what you have learnt; being able to teach others your new skills is a good way to solidify your understanding.
Teacher Learning Resources
- Future Learn has many education courses from teaching computing in primary schools to creating an inclusive classroom.
- CPD Online from the Education People offers a range of e-learning courses covering Early Years to post-16.
- edX is a web-based learning platform with courses covering a wide range of subjects created and delivered by leading universities around the world.
- Alison offers free courses and has specific categories for teaching and academics, IT and personal development.
- Udemy has a wide range of courses suitable for various aspects of teacher training.
- Coursera has guided projects on using google classrooms and other courses to help add to your technical abilities.
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