"Taking classes... and... [doing] professional reading
really got me on track... And I've had mentors through all
my professional life. I continue to have them... because
I don't think we ever stop evolving. Professionally, I don't
think you can."
6th Grade Teacher, Picacho Middle School
Las Cruces, New Mexico
A common thread among effective teachers is their spirit
of inquiry. Effective teachers center their professional lives
around the generation of questions and a search for solutions.
They wonder about how their students learn and about what
they might do to help them learn better. They wonder about
their students-who they are as members of cultural communities
and who they are as individuals. They are interested in new
developments in their subject matter. They consider new understandings
about thinking and teaching and learning, and wonder how they
might be applicable to their classrooms. Posing questions
and seeking answers are foundational aspects of their professional
of this learning is informal. Effective teachers become ethnographers
in their classrooms, watching students carefully to determine
how they learn, what difficulties they encounter, and what
kinds of instruction help them overcome those difficulties.
They talk to people parents, community members, and
other teachers. They read professional books and subscribe
to professional publications.
Effective teachers also engage in more formal modes of professional
development. They join organizations such as the National
Council of Teachers of English or the International Reading
Association, and attend the local and national conferences
supported by those organizations. They may take classes at
the local university to pursue advanced degrees or simply
to update their understandings in areas that interest them.
Or they may participate in teacher development workshops offered
by their schools or by organizations such as the National
Thoughtful planning is a second component in the lives of
effective teachers. While they may be pleased to discover
an individual lesson or experience that their students respond
to, they understand that even the best lessons are effective
only insofar as they form part of an integral plan for instruction
over the long term. From the earliest stages in their planning,
these teachers consider what their students need to know and
what they need to know how to do by the end of the school
year, and they develop plans that weave together flexible
instructional designs targeting those goals. Throughout the
year they revisit their plans, adjusting them to meet developing
In this program, you will hear teachers talking about the
importance of professional development in their lives and
about the ways they conceptualize their planning. As you listen,
think about your own professional life. What kinds of professional
development are most useful to you? Do you allow yourself
enough time for the development you would like to experience?
Could you plan your instruction in ways that would be more
effective for you and your students?
For a complete guide to the workshop session activities,
download and print our Support Materials.