Anyone who is involved in teaching others!
The school year is just about complete, and summer break is appearing in your scope of vision. It is the perfect time to stop and consider if your professional development efforts for this year were successful. Who grew this year? Did you grow? Did your students grow?
You invested time and attention to attend conferences at school or away, sit in on webinars, or read an educational book. Did you grow professionally from those events and activities? Was your professional development successful? In order to figure out the answer to that question, we need to know what successful professional development looks like.
Success Professional Development Should Positively Influence Students
Professional development when done well should enhance the professional knowledge, skills, and attitudes of educators. However, the professional growth process does not stop there. The professional development of teachers should ultimately produce benefits for students. In other words, the learning process for us as educators should improve the learning process for students. Our efforts to improve should have a positive effect on students.
Therefore, when considering our professional growth, we should be able to identify ways our knowledge, skills, and attitudes were enhanced relative to what and how we teach. Consequently, if our professional development efforts were successful, we should notice that student knowledge, skills, and attitudes were affected by the application of our professional learning.
Notice that professional growth analysis requires a 360 or holistic self-examination of thinking, actions, and heart conditions. Once again, we see the importance of head, heart, and hands in education. In previous blogs, we considered how Christian education is a holistic process involving three components. The head component is that part of education focused on how we think about things and gain knowledge. The heart component in education addresses affections and passions experienced through relationships. The hands component includes beliefs and knowledge lived out or applied. Both professional learning and student learning need to address the head, heart, and hands.
Successful Professional Development for Christian Educators
Consideration of professional growth for Christian educators goes beyond academic content and teaching methods. As Christian educators, we should also seek growth in our own spiritual formation and worldview development. Remember, spiritual formation is how we grow to be more like Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. When we engage in spiritual disciplines, we participate with the Holy Spirit to become more like Christ.
Similarly, biblical worldview development transpires as we spend time with other believers, intentionally consider worldview ideas, and participate in life events that demonstrate biblical beliefs. As we grow spiritually and as our worldview develops so we can more clearly think and respond in a biblical manner, our teaching should shift as well.
Evaluating Your Own Professional Development Growth
Here is a list of questions to think about as you consider your professional development growth as a Christian educator. I encourage you to prayerfully consider each question and write out the answer.
- Did I grow in my relationship with Jesus this past year?
- How did my changed relationship with Jesus affect my work in the classroom and my school?
- Did my thinking and attitudes about Jesus and his world change in any way this year?
- How did I apply the changes in my worldview to my vocation?
- Did I grow in my pedagogical understanding, heart attitudes, and teaching skills this year?
- How did I apply or use those developments in pedagogical understanding, heart attitude, and teaching skills to glorify Jesus in the classroom or school community?
- In what ways did my professional or spiritual growth affect my students’ thinking, heart condition, or actions?
Now, don’t stop there. Here are the next steps after answering each question. Thank the Lord for the growth you were able to identify and how you were able to apply that growth. In the hustle and bustle of teaching, it is easy to overlook our own growth.
Based on how you answered each question, identify one or two places you’d like to grow. Change those identified areas of growth into a goal statement. For example, you might have begun the spiritual discipline of daily study of God’s word. For 15 minutes each day, you analyze a section of Scripture for the meaning of the message as it relates to the audience and the purpose of the text. During the self-assessment of your professional growth, you realized that you did not intentionally apply that practice in your classroom. Your students memorize Scripture each week, but now you realize that you need to provide time or training for your students in how to analyze those same Scripture passages beyond memorization. Therefore, a new goal for yourself is to teach students how to analyze Scripture in a developmentally appropriate way.
From this goal, you can then generate a related growth plan. You might research ways to help students analyze Scripture. (See Foundation Worldview or Gospel Coalition.) Another option would be to attend a webinar series or conference that teaches methods to use when guiding students on Scripture analysis.
The main takeaway from this self-analysis regarding your professional growth is this. What you have learned should affect who you are, how you think, your attitudes, and how you teach. The success of professional development can be seen in the changes that take place in students’ learning.
Biblical Examples of Successful Professional Development
We see examples of professional growth in the lives of several people described in the Bible. The example of professional development that is most prominent in my eyes is that of Paul teaching Timothy. Using a coaching model, Paul intentionally trained Timothy to grow in Christlikeness and to provide mission-minded ministry. The end goal for Timothy’s professional growth training was to train others to do the same. The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2)
At Transformed PD, we stand on the benefits of a coaching model to provide professional development for biblical integration in the classroom. Using a combination of direct instruction, collaborative learning, and coaching, teachers learn how to plan and teach so that biblical truth is revealed in the content. The result is that students develop skills in Scripture analysis, as well as the ability to discover worldview ideas that are revealed in the subject area material. Teacher growth affects student growth.
So how was your year? Who grew?
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