Teacher Professional Development
Teachers are expected to engage in professional learning through in-service, degree or certificate programs. To ensure the highest possible degree of support for students, and to support effective instruction, teacher professional learning must be relevant, comprehensive, high quality and have clear connections to classroom needs.
Professional learning is important for teachers to keep current with pedagogical practices, to develop their skill in using these practices and to expand their existing content background in the subject areas they teach. Effective teachers are continuous learners.
High-quality professional learning has the effect of challenging participants’ current thinking, adds to their skills and knowledge, leads to improvements in their practice and enhances their contribution to their schools. Effective professional learning is essential in developing quality teachers.
Regional centres across the province are working to adopt similar best practices for professional development and learning by:
• providing time for teachers to meet in professional learning communities
• supporting in-school professional mentors and coaches
• creating school-based and regional professional development opportunities
• promoting the value of individual professional growth planning in connection with teacher and school goals
Teachers have many opportunities to pursue self-directed learning goals and system or school directed professional learning. In recent years, schools, regional centres and provincial priorities have focused on teacher professional learning as a catalyst for improved student learning. The Nova Scotia Teachers Union supports 22 professional associations that provide the opportunity for teacher-initiated professional learning.
Familiarize yourself with the types of professional learning available in Nova Scotia.
Associations develop and promote professional development activities in their respective subject and/or program areas. They organize professional and curriculum development activities such as annual conferences and regional in-service activities, and they encourage teacher participation on provincial task forces, committees and work groups. Today professional learning often takes place in schools. This enables teachers to improve instructional skills based on their own professional goals as well as the emerging needs of students within the school context.
The Nova Scotia Instructional Leadership Academy (NSILA) is an organization which provides leadership training for educators in the province. Visit Education Leadership Constorium of Nova Scotia (NSELC) for more information. (Read More 2) There is also a wide variety of professional learning programs and workshops offered by NSELC. The NSELC modules can be used for credit at the five Nova Scotia Education Degree granting universities including St Francis Xavier University , Mount Saint Vincent University , Acadia University , Cape Breton University and University Ste. Anne.
Teacher professional learning is also supported by Nova Scotian universities through graduate degree and certificate programs. A significant majority of master of education programming in Nova Scotia is now provided through a cohort model, which allows the five Nova Scotian universities offering bachelor of education programs to collaborate effectively and respond to system needs. Co-designed cohort programs in areas such as literacy, mathematics and guidance are allowing universities and regional centres to partner in meeting regional needs more effectively. Many cohort programs are also designed to enable teachers to connect the pedagogical and curricular knowledge with their current teaching assignments through applied or job-embedded learning.