Math Teacher Professional Development

Instructor: Sharon Linde
Keeping up with the latest trends in math education is important for educators. Learn how math teachers stay on top of their trade as we explore professional development for these instructors.

What is Professional Development?

Getting a teaching certificate is a big step for educators, but teacher preparation doesn't begin and end there. Teachers attend professional development, or PD workshops, seminars and other educational opportunities that offer additional training. Let's follow Bob, a math teacher, as he explores his professional development options.

Why Professional Development?

There are a few reasons Bob may be looking for professional development. Maybe his school adopted a new math curriculum and the training is required, or maybe he is looking for personal growth. Here are a few things that drive teachers to PD opportunities:

  • Required certification or licensure: States, districts and schools have requirements for teachers to work and teach. They generally require a teaching certificate or license of some sort, and often professional development classes can be taken to earn credit towards these requirements. Even after earning his teaching certificate, Bob may be required by his district, school or state to attend a certain number of professional development hours each year.
  • New trends: Like most subjects, math is constantly evolving. New trends and methods of teaching come up often, and as a good teacher, Bob recognizes how important it is to be trained in these principles. Attending professional development gives him fresh insights into his field.
  • Staying connected: Bob teaches at a medium-size school where aren't many other math teachers. He likes to talk to other teachers in his subject and grade to get new ideas and check out creative instructional methods used around town. Bob uses professional development to stay connected to others in his field.

Professional Development Basics

Now that we know why Bob wants to attend professional development, let's see what the experience will be like for him. Like most teachers, Bob is in a classroom all day. When will he have time to get more training? Professional development for teachers is offered in many different formats. Bob may get a substitute teacher for his class so that he can attend a workshop for a day or two during the week. He might also choose from weekend or summer offerings. Many professional development courses are offered online in the form of interactive webinars or chat groups. Depending on the type of PD Bob wants to go to, he will have many options for when he attends.

Professional Development Options for Math Teachers

What is Bob looking for in a PD opportunity? Bob should identify his needs and goals before choosing from one of these three broad categories:

Instruction

Professional development opportunities focusing on methods of teaching are the most abundant. Bob can choose from many PD options ranging from specific math subjects, like first grade or geometry, or instructional practices such as group work or project-based learning. He may take a course to get him up to speed on new curriculum adopted by his school or the new standards by which he is required to teach.

Strategies

Bob may also attend PD to learn effective teaching strategies. Understanding what to teach is important, but Bob also recognizes that knowing how to teach matters too. PD on effective teaching strategies will give Bob ideas about organization, whole and small group instruction, and ways to reach all learners.

Data Management

Like most teachers these days, Bob is required to keep information on his students detailing progress. This data is used to drive future instruction and offer each student a personalized education. But data can be tricky and confusing. What information is important, and how should it be organized? Bob can get answers to these and other questions in PD focused on data management.

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