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PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: AN ONGOING COMMITMENT TO ENSURE THAT TEACHING AND LEARNING SKILLS AND CONTENT AREA KNOWLEDGE ARE CONTINUOUSLY UPDATED AND RELEVANT TO TODAY'S STUDENTS


Professional development includes activities that enhance teaching and learning and lead to career growth. These activities may include individual development, continuing education, and inservice education, as well as curriculum writing, peer collaboration, study groups, and peer coaching or mentoring. Michael Fullan (1991) expands the definition to include "the sum total of formal and informal learning experiences throughout one's career from preservice teacher education to retirement."

Considering the meaning of professional development in the technological age, others who promote professional development suggest a broader definition to include the use of technology to foster teacher growth. It's all about research-based teaching and evidence-based learning. Professional development is not limited to an inservice day, a place or a time. Professional development is all about continuous learning that is embedded in the day-to-day work of the teacher.

So a useful definition by Peggy A. Grant is, "Professional development ... goes beyond the term 'training' with its implications of learning skills, and encompasses a definition that includes formal and informal means of helping teachers not only learn new skills but also develop new insights into pedagogy and their own practice, and explore new or advanced understandings of content and resources. This definition of professional development includes support for teachers as they encounter the challenges that come with putting into practice their evolving understandings about the use of technology to support inquiry-based learning. Current technologies offer resources to meet these challenges and provide teachers with a cluster of supports that help them continue to grow in their professional skills, understandings, and interests."