Want to be an even better teacher? Further study could be the answer

You’re already a great educator, but how can you develop your existing skills to become even better?

Teaching is a rewarding profession, but it's a challenging one. Most days, even the most experienced teachers will walk away from their classroom thinking about how they can improve. There are always ways to develop, and even the most confident teachers can benefit from continuing to learn and improve their techniques, understanding and strategies. As the world continues to change, a teacher’s mind must evolve with it.

Between adjusting to new teaching materials and variations in best practice, it can be difficult to focus on developing and finessing your skillset. However, pursuing further education can help you ensure you’re providing the best learning outcomes for both you and your students. Sometimes the best thing a teacher can do is step away from their desk and visualise the world from a student’s perspective again. It can leave you feeling inspired, encouraged and motivated to do your best work every single day.

Reflect and evaluate

Taking some time to reflect is a vital part of identifying areas of improvement. Consider your communication, organisational and time management skills, your leadership qualities, and your ability to identify and address your students’ learning needs.

Stay ahead of the learning curve

As John Dewey once said, “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” Education is constantly evolving, so teachers must learn and be able to comprehend new advances and developments as they emerge. Staying abreast of new trends and information is key.

On-the-job learning only goes so far – advancing your skills and knowledge at a respected institution ensures you’re keeping up to date with the new technology and research that informs your sector. You’ll also learn new ideas and more efficient processes, which you can implement into your workplace.

For Brisbane teacher Carla Salmon of the Professional Certificate in Evidence-Based Teaching course (formerly known as Clinical Teaching), the benefits start even before graduation. “I have already shared and implemented the rubrics developed from my assessments, and we will refine the framework further as we collaborate as a department,” she says. “I really appreciate the practical focus of this course, which can be immediately implemented in my teaching practice.”

Whether it’s to facilitate best practices or to ensure you’re meeting and exceeding industry standards, continuing education also shows employers that you’re committed to staying on top of how the industry is progressing.

“I am gaining a valuable range of professional knowledge from the Professional Certificate in Evidence-Based Teaching course (formerly known as Clinical Teaching),” says Jordan Goulding, a high-school English teacher in the ACT. “It has completely reshaped my approach to the classroom and how I target individual learners using evidence.”

Be introduced to new methods of teaching

Pursuing further study can open your eyes to new, more effective teaching methods and strategies to implement into the classroom. Evidence-based teaching, for example, involves using data to establish where students are in their learning journey, deciding on a suitable teaching strategy, monitoring students’ progress, and evaluating the efficiency of the teaching method.

Information about student progress is vital – it provides the groundwork needed to establish whether or not, and how effectively, an individual student is learning. Low levels of progress may signify lack of effort from the student or ineffective teaching, which would merit further investigation. Information about progress will provide educators with the most direct indicator of efficiency, as well as promote the assessment of educational policies, programs and methodologies to support student growth.

The power of pursuing your own education

Your learning experience shouldn’t stop once you’ve landed a teaching job. In fact, being a student again can be invigorating. One of the most effective ways to finesse your teaching skills is to seek out professional growth opportunities in your field. Investing in your own personal development not only gives you a chance to learn from industry-leading professionals and academics who can relate to where you are and what you’re doing, but it can also immensely improve your students’ learning experiences in the classroom.

Perhaps you have an area of specialisation you’d like to focus on? As well as picking up great practical tips that will assist you in the classroom, becoming specialised in a particular field will do wonders for your career direction. It will highlight your skills to current and future employers, help you develop key leadership abilities, uncover new interests, enhance your CV, and possibly boost your salary!

A good teacher may have a broad knowledge of subject matter and standards, a caring attitude, a love of learning, expertise in discipline and classroom management techniques, but a great teacher is one with the drive and passion to do and be better. Those who can acknowledge their areas for growth and work towards developing their current skills are the ones who’ll make an unprecedented difference in the lives of their students.

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