If you read Lakeside Connect on a regular basis, you know one of Lakeside’s programs features extensive professional development courses for those who work with children and families. We also have a complete certification program in becoming trauma competent. At the hub of some of the central issues in our region, we have been privileged to provide professional development for over 3000 professionals in the greater Philadelphia region.
The value of professional development for teachers
Further, we have had the privilege of serving the teaching staff of the Philadelphia School District.
As most of you can imagine, the dire circumstances of any urban school district can leave teachers completely burned out, deflated and in need of coping strategies that will help them deal with the many challenges they face each day.
We are encouraged by responses to our training offerings; whenever we open enrollment for our training classes, the classes immediately are filled and have waiting lists.
However, our deeper regret is the limited resources for valued professional development for teachers.
Teachers need to be informed of so much.
Teachers need to be apprised of socio-emotional issues such as trauma and effective communication, to discipline, to technology. The range of knowledge required of teachers is growing because research is rapidly changing the understanding of what children and schools need in order to be effective. In parallel, the demands and expectations of our state regarding teachers are always growing.
To be effective, there is so much to know about child development, the teen brain, brain-based classrooms (and so much more) that could greatly benefit the environments of schools, and more specifically, each individual classroom.
The demands of teaching are intense throughout the year.
There are preparations for each period, meetings to attend, school activities to be a part of, individual students who have specific needs, parents to communicate with and many other agendas.
On top of those demands, teachers must navigate through limited budgets trying to solve a myriad of challenges. Add to that students with special needs, which can absorb a teacher’s entire day. It is no wonder professional development is a low priority in light of all that is demanded of teachers.
I have known of some districts which provide summer professional development classes for their teachers. These require extra time and energy, but we have found that teachers appreciated and benefited from such training. The off-season time where there is no school in session offers more potential to learn and reflect.
I am really an advocate for a Summer Institute for every teacher in every school. The job of a teacher is so important and sometimes so difficult. It just seems that the investment in time and training teachers would be immeasurable, it would make them an even greater asset in their jobs, to their students and in their lives. What a great opportunity that can be so empowering to so many.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network