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The Advantages of Professional Development for Educators

Professional Development for EducatorsIn the decades that Fresno Pacific University has offered professional development for educators, they have received feedback that has both encouraged them and led to changes that make courses better.

That’s the goal of all professional development classes offered through the university’s Office of Continuing Education: Provide guidance and expertise that helps teachers to do a better job in their classrooms.

Instructors at the university, such as language arts and writing expert Jeromy Winter, use feedback from teachers to create better professional development courses for educators. Winter recently shared his approach to developing and teaching professional development courses.

But first, here’s a look at what Fresno Pacific University offers teachers who are looking for professional development for educators.

Courses Offering Professional Development for Educators

Fresno Pacific University offers a large variety of courses for teachers. In the area of professional development, they fall into two categories: professional development certificates and professional development microcredentials.

Certificate courses cover topics such as classroom technology, coaching for excellence, STEM teaching and restorative strategies for the classroom. Microcredentials can be earned in areas such as classroom management, data-driven instruction, addressing learning differences and organizing content for learning.

Instructors Share Their Thoughts

The instructions who run the professional development classes for educators at Fresno Pacific University come from diverse backgrounds. What unites them is the drive to create courses that meet the needs of teachers.

For example, Jeromy Winter, who has a master’s in reading and language arts from Fresno State, said that he puts his 17 years of experience in education into developing his continuing education courses.

He’s also a teacher himself.

“I am currently teaching and know the needs of teachers,” Winter said. “I use my knowledge of current trends and school climate to build courses to meet the needs of today's teachers. My expertise comes from continually educating myself in the field and keeping up on current educational learning through professional development, conferences, and readings.”

Winter also makes himself available to his students to provide “prompt support and feedback.” He added, “I also offer support to my students after completing my courses.”

A Deep Dive Into Topics

Winter  said that in order to address concerns about classes being too broad and shallow for teachers, he designs classes that offer “a deep understanding of the topic of study. Through videos, oral histories, and readings students gain a deep knowledge base to use in building high-quality lessons for their students.” He explained that teachers who complete his courses have “not only have basic knowledge of the subject matter to offer all students but will be able to offer a deep understanding to those students who are able to go beyond.”

Winter also said he gives teachers in his classes a chance to reflect on what they have learned not only from his lesson but also in talking with each other.

“In my courses, I believe we are a group of instructional experts who learn from one another,” he said. “There is an expectation we all support each other and offer our knowledge in areas of our expertise. I provide support via email, through Moodle applications, and through creating video tutorials. I take care of my FPU students and want them to succeed.”

A Teacher Teaching Other Teachers

Winter is also a teacher himself, which helps him better understand the needs of other teachers. Winter works as an elementary education teacher librarian. He said his job “helps me understand the current needs in the classroom. I understand the challenges of balancing the curriculum and the real needs of students.” He said one main area of focus is technology. In his job, Winter works with teachers who “fall all over the spectrum of technological knowledge,”

“I understand teachers are at different places in their journey to integrate technology and am able to meet them where they are,” he said. “In designing my courses, I took into consideration all of the requirements put on teachers. I thought about how teachers would be able to use what they learn today, in their classrooms tomorrow.”

How Professional Development Pays Off

Those who have taken the professional development courses for educators at Fresno Pacific University often write about their experiences. A recent letter from a math teacher in South Carolina who took a course offers a testimonial to how professional development can better a teacher’s classroom.

The teacher wrote that the professional development class “has given me lots of ideas and resources to make my Algebra 1 class better and more dynamic.  I have used a lot of the ideas already and my students are more engaged in math because of them.  I think it is great to have lots of resources that you can tailor to your individual class.”

For teachers looking to improve their performance as an educator, a professional development course can give them the skills and knowledge they need to take the next step in their career.