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What is Educational Professional Development?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2018
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Educational professional development is continuing education pursued by members of the education profession. Continuing education is designed to enrich a teacher or professor's existing knowledge and skills. In many regions of the world, teachers are required to complete a set number of hours of educational professional development each year if they wish to retain their licenses, while professors on the college level participate in educational professional development so that they will remain at the top of their fields.

A wide variety of activities can be considered educational professional development. Independent studies such as reading education texts are generally not accepted, but things like attending conferences, taking classes, studying at workshops, and enrolling in other facilitated learning opportunities are acceptable forms of continuing education. In cases where continuing education is required, people can receive certification which verifies their participation in such programs. People can also teach or lead educational development opportunities if they are leading members of their particular field within the education world.

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There are a number of reasons to pursue professional education development, even if it is not required to maintain licensure. From a career perspective, participating in continuing education is vitally necessary. People who do not demonstrate an interest in acquiring new skills and keeping their skills sharp will be passed over for promotion and denied tenure by officials who are more interested in retaining teachers with a clear interest in continuing professional development throughout their careers. Educational professional development also gives people an opportunity to get familiar with new government mandates and laws pertaining to education and education professionals.

Educational professional development can also provide opportunities to network with other education professionals. This can be useful from a professional perspective, but also a personal one. People often enjoy spending time with individuals who work in a similar field and have similar interests. Attendees at a conference of physics teachers, for example, already know that they have a lot in common, and they may strike up friendships which can be personally as well as professionally enriching.

Educational professional development also provides an opportunity to learn about new teaching techniques, new developments in rapidly changing fields, and other information which can make someone a more effective teacher. The ultimate purpose of continuing education for education professionals is to develop better, more effective teachers who will enthuse students while providing them with useful knowledge. Teachers who have performed especially well may be recognized at conferences and other events with awards marking their accomplishments in the classroom.

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