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NYC Helpline: How To: Develop as a Professional

Maintaining YOUR Professional Posture
Theresa London Cooper

By definition, a profession is the work of persons who possess a body of knowledge, skills, and practices that must be continually tested and upgraded with colleagues. A professional field, as opposed to a technical one, is one that prizes constant dissatisfaction with one’s own practice with current clients as the core to better service to clients in the future.

Carl D. Glickman
Leadership for Learning: How to Help Teachers Succeed

As we come to the close of what I hope has been a successful school year for you and your students, I think it is apropos to end with a reflection of those behaviors that often define us as professionals. Some of the behaviors listed below have been adapted from The First Days of School by Harry Wong.

1. Join or Organize a Study Group
Vygostsky maintained that learning is a social activity and it is best done with others. Great ideas and insights are made in study groups. Additionally, if the group is school-based, teachers can conduct grade-wide planning, which gives them more time to refine specific areas of instruction. Moreover, it gives teachers an opportunity to make “critical friends.”

2. Read for Growth
Reading is one of the most essential practices that keep us informed about our profession. Scholarly journals, teacher magazines, and websites inform various aspects of our practice. Reading gives us food for thought as we ponder and implement ideas, theories, and strategies that relate to effective instruction.

3. Observe Other Effective Teachers
As a new teacher, I found observing effective teachers a worthwhile practice that helped me hone my own skills and gave me numerous ways to teach difficult concepts.

4. Participate in Conferences, Forums and Seminars
Invaluable, considering that conferences, forums, and seminars give us the opportunity to:
network and meet others
brainstorm solutions and solve problems together
view an issue or problem from a different perspective
ask clarifying questions that may deepen our understanding of important concepts
share knowledge.

5. Use Relevant Research and Data to Drive Instruction
Effective instruction is based on relevant data and research that describe best practice. As professionals we want to use quality formative and summative data along with current research to inform our practice. As professionals we must keep our eyes on the goal: selecting research that informs our practice and impacts student achievement.

6. Join a Professional Organization
All professionals have organizations that will keep them informed about important trends, effective practices, updated research, and improved methods. As educators, it is a good idea to become a member of an organization which reflects your area of specialization.

7. Celebrate Your Accomplishments
Celebrating your accomplishments is a way to motivate yourself to continue moving forward and refine your knowledge and skills. The Teachers Network has been a tremendous example of professionalism in its commitment to educators. It has provided support in numerous ways nationally and internationally. I congratulate and thank The Teachers Network as it celebrates twenty-five years of outstanding dedication to the field of education and its profound impact on the lives of educators and students.
Educators who are proactive problem-solvers are continually searching for ways to refine their practice and maintain a professional posture. Glickman sums it up best with the following quote:

Without the cultivation of dissatisfaction and critique, without being clear about our purposes, and without the need to use a knowledge base in practice, we have no education and no profession.

Do you have a comment or question about this article? E-mail Theresa.


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