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Professional Development in Education

Ashley Rostek

Tricia Ryan, Instructor

Using Information Effectively in Education (ISTC 201)

May 2, 2007


This research paper was to study how professional development is crucial for any person within the education field.  Since technology and information can become outdated, teachers need to have the newest and up to date material to teach to their students.  Professional development can be offered through various workshops, taking online courses, and many books that have been published.  Within taking professional development courses advantage and disadvantages result for both teachers and students.  With new technology being offered and the NCLBA being passed, teachers need to learn ways of how they can teach to their students.  Professional development does not just help teachers learn new material, but help teachers remain certified in the education field. 

Professional Development in Education


Ever wonder where your teacher gets those cool ideas that they use in class? How about how they know those facts or ideas to get your mind into thinking and learning? All teachers go to college to learn theories but the way they become more knowledgeable of new issues and technology is by attending professional development courses.  This is where teachers can learn the up to date technology and issues.  This research paper explains that while workshops and professional texts can help a teacher develop professionally, online professional development courses offer an up to date, effective means of maintaining certification and improving one’s teaching ability.

According to

Professional Development often refers to skills required for maintaining for a specific career path or to general skills offered through a continuing education, including the more general skills area of personal development (2007, p.1).

In other words, this is training and learning session for a person within the education field.  Teachers are able to strengthen any weaknesses and build on their strengths.  Professional Development can be useful because it keeps educators aware of the new technological advances that are being introduced to the school community.  Professional development lets educators know of the most recent updates of the material that they have studied before. 

Importance of Professional Development

            Professional development is one of the most critical components that a teacher must attend to ensure that students will be able to gain development through their education years.  According to Building Bridges, “The mission of professional development is to prepare and support educators to help all students achieve to high standards of living and development” (2001, p.  5).  Professional development allows teachers to gain the newest research of practices in the methods of teaching, learning and leadership.  Professional development learning does not only include teachers but the participation of the whole education community.  Teachers can further develop their expertise in strategies, content, technologies and all the other essentials that they may need to help their students achieve.  Many people fear that professional development will take away their individuality, but professional development does not try to do that.  Professional development respects the individuality techniques and wants to improve the techniques to keep up with the newest technologies.

Workshops and Online Courses: Advantages and Disadvantages

            Many teachers do go to workshops.  These workshops last about a day or two but may need teachers to come back to build on the idea.  In a workshop, teachers learn about a new idea being added for teaching a subject.  Teachers have hands on approach to learn new ways of teaching the idea.  Workshops can be held through the school in which a teacher is employed, or through a publishing company.  As you can see, professional development is like a workshop but mildly different.  Professional development is when teachers take classes to update their certification.  Teachers can learn new ways and the latest material needed to provide an education.

            Some teachers complain that they don’t have the time, money, or schedule to attend courses they need.  With the technology today, teachers don’t have to leave their homes.  The Baltimore County Public Schools System and University of Phoenix offer many online courses for professional development.  Some courses that are being offered are Education that is Multicultural, School Administration and Finance, Behavior Management: Working with Children with Challenging Behaviors and The Special Learner: An Introduction.  With having these courses online, teachers can make a schedule that agrees with theirs.  The courses only take about three weeks, which is better then what it could have been.  Many of these online courses, depending on what they are and who offers them are free.  This can help a teacher who may have a tight budget.  Some of the advantages of taking these online courses are that there is technical support for when a teacher needs help.  All the instructors teaching are highly intelligent of the subject.  Last, all of the assignments can and may apply to a teacher’s job and what the school needs.  Teachers may complain about having to take the courses, but knowing the advantages of taking these courses assures that they are gaining the criteria they need to remain certified.      

            Some of the disadvantages that can be with having online courses are that teachers are not getting the hands on approach of the material then when they would within a classroom.  A teacher may not understand the course and by taking it online they can just breeze through it.  If a teacher has a busy schedule then they may rush through the class and any assignments given.  Teachers may not think to take notes or print out copies of important ideas they receive from these courses.  Not documenting an idea will leave the teachers helpless if they would like to refer back to it at a later date.  The last thing that may worry anybody is the fact that teachers may not be taking these courses to learn new ideas to use within teaching but only taking the courses to keep them certified within education. 

Helpful Books Teachers Can Use

            Not all professional development courses are online or need to be taken as a course.  Some professional development courses can be straight from a book.  Teachers look for these books to help give them inspiration within their classrooms.  These books can be purchased at any bookstore.  Most of the books that have been published have been mostly based on teaching reading and writing to students.  Jennifer Rowsell has written Family Literacy Experiences.  In this book she describes how a teacher can bring ideas from the home into the classroom.  Laura Robb has written Teaching Reading to give strategies of reading, thinking, and writing within the classroom.  This tells teachers that using the library and writing journals can improve the language arts of students.  Ruth Culham has written another book for professional development called Reproducible Forms for the Writing Traits Classroom: K-2.  This gives teachers a direct path of how to give the proper feedback to children of a young age.  Another book that Ruth Culham has written is 6+1 Traits of Writing: The Complete Guide for the Primary Grades.  Scholastic states, “It allows teachers to pinpoint students’ strengths and weaknesses in ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, conventions, and presentation, and, from there, plan and carry out instructions” (Scholastic, Cover of the book).  This book is being widely used throughout the Baltimore County Elementary Public Schools.  All these books can be considered a “how to do it yourself”.  Having these books allow teachers to refer back to them anytime they need guidance or verify a situation.  A disadvantage of a teacher referring to books for help is that a book can become outdated which can make the practices old and not affective.  Although these books can become outdated, teachers continue to use these books because they are helpful for when a teacher does not have time to find a new plan.     

Benefits for Teachers and Students

When teachers attend workshops, take courses to enhance their knowledge and referring to books, they are benefiting from doing this.  One of the benefits that teachers can gain from doing professional development is that they can develop leadership skills and become more professional in their career.  Some other benefits that may occur are that teachers build on their classroom skills, trends and build on their existing ideas.  The last benefit of professional development is that they grow within their profession.  Teachers are not the only ones who benefit from taking these professional development courses, students receive some benefits as well.  If a student has a teacher who has gone through professional development courses, then the student will learn new ways of gaining knowledge.  They get a sense of creativity and not just the boring ways of learning.  They not only dependent on teachers but they would like teachers to be dynamic and knowledgeable.  They would like a teacher who is informative and can give them new ideas or strategies to use later in life.  Teachers are a big part within students’ lives.  Teachers recognize this importance and try to find ways to make students learn and succeed.  

Common Reasons for Professional Development

Technology and reading have been the most common topics being taught within professional development.  The reason for this is because technology has been placed in every home as well as the school buildings.  The passing of the “No Child Left Behind Act” has teachers finding new ways of teaching children how they can learn to read well.  Due to these reasons, professional development courses have been offered to help handle these new advances because no teacher wants to see a student fail.  In the Illinois Reading Council Journal, Susan K.  L’Allier and Laurie Elish-Piper have published the Ten Best Practices for Professional Development in Reading.  They decided to apply this research because they realized that reading was becoming a huge qualified target in education.  Some of the practices that a teacher can do to have a high quality professional development of reading is building a community of learners that is sustained over time.  Teachers may operate from a data driven perspective, focus on the evidence-based practices and focus on reading as being a meaning- making process used for the pleasure, gathering and learning information to perform tasks.   Two other practices include facilitator and teacher discussions and to acknowledge the complexity of how teaching in a classroom can be.  Knowing some of these practices can help teachers find ways to apply new ideas for students to learn how to read. 

Teachers have never incorporated a lot of technology in the classroom because they didn’t know how to and the tools were not accessible.  Since everything is now based off of technology it is easy to see that lessons are being given on how to incorporate technology into learning.  Technology has made a huge change within classrooms and with students.  According to Mary Burns, “Teachers reported that they began to see immediate improvement in the form and content of students’ work once they began using technology” (2002, p.  11).  Knowing that students are becoming well rounded and comfortable in using technology, teachers should find ways of incorporating that within their teaching. 


Professional development does not just rely on just learning about a strategy.  It is a teacher who learns how to apply more knowledge for a student to learn.  Many teachers feel that if they were to use professional development then they would lose their uniqueness of being a teacher.  This is not true, professional development is trying to build on this uniqueness.  It helps a teacher to grow more within their education.  Even though technology can be considered bad, it has helped many succeed in education profession.  Technology has made taking classes and learning material easy.  It has made life simpler and less hectic as well as helping teachers save money.  Even though there are many workshops and books for teachers to use, using online professional development can maintain up to date material and help a teacher remain certified.



Book Reference:

Culham, R. (2005). 6+1 Traits of writing: The complete guide for the primary grades. United States: Scholastic Inc.

Flyer References:

Jeanne Imbriale. (2007). Spring II session: Online professional development. Retrieved from The Baltimore County Public Schools.

University of Phoenix. (2007). Teachers: Earn 3 semester credits in 3 weeks- online. Retrieved from The Higher Learning Commission.

Journal References:

Blum, T. H., Yocom, D. J., & Trent, A. (2005). Professional development: When teachers plan and     deliver their own. Rural Special Education Quarterly 24(2), 18-21. Retrieve February 27, 2007 from Academic Search Premier/ EBSCO database.

L’Allier, S. K., & Elish-Piper, L. (2007). Ten best practices for professional development inreading. Illinois Reading Council Journal 35(1), 22-27. Retrieved April 24, 2007 fromAcademic Search Premier/ EBSCO database.

Price, B. (2007). Professional development opportunities in changing times. Nursing Standard 21(25), 29-33. Retrieved April 24, 2007 from Academic Search Premier/ EBSCO databases.

Simonson, S. D. (2007). Professional development. Illinois Reading Council Journal 35(2), 65-

68. Retrieved April 24, 2007 from Academic Search Premier/ EBSCO database.

Valesey, B. G., (1998). Professional development. Technology Teacher 58(2), 31-32.

Retrieved February 19, 2007 from Academic Search Premier/

EBSCO database.

Newspaper Article Reference:

Kitlowski, E. (2007, April). Don’t blame schools for children who fail. Letters to the Editor.

Retrieved April 29, 2007, from,1,6000816.story?ctrack=2&cset=true.

WWW References:

Burns, M. (2002). From black and white to color: Technology, professional development and

changing practices. Retrieved April 24, 2007 from

U.S. Department of Education. (2001, October 29). Building Bridges: The mission & principles

 of professional development. Retrieved February 27, 2007, from

Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (2007, January 20). Professional Development.

Retrieved February 17, 2007, from

Last Updated By: Ashley Rostek on Monday, May 07, 2007

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