By Marina DeVino
Student teaching has a lot more to offer than just exceptional classroom experience. Throughout this semester, I have had several opportunities for professional development. Shortly after the semester began, my school district held a Professional Development Day. My cooperating teacher and I attended several workshops that day, including workshops on the online lesson planning system utilized by the district, SMART Board and SMART Response technologies, and creating mathematics common assessments. Rider University’s School of Education has also offered several opportunities for professional development, including its Back to Campus Day that was held in early March.
My most recent opportunity for professional development was this past weekend, when I presented at and attended the Northeast Writing Centers Association (NEWCA) 2013 Conference at the University of New Hampshire with the Student Success Center Assistant Director and some of my fellow writing lab tutors. For the conference, we created a presentation on our “Tweet to Thesis” workshop series, a series that helps students improve their academic writing by comparing it to social media writing. The NEWCA Conference provided me with the opportunity present my personal contributions to this fantastic workshop series and attend other workshops and discussions held by other universities. I was able to attend workshops addressing topics that affect writing centers such as curriculum changes, integrating SMART Board technology, and gender dynamics. Although these presentations were based on writing center experiences, I was able to look at them through the lens of an educator and apply the concepts to a classroom. The biggest lesson I learned is that being flexible is key when curriculum and technology changes come along. After attending the workshop on gender dynamics, I am more aware of my classroom and will be sure to increase wait time after asking questions and call on a variety of students to make sure each student’s voice is heard.
Each professional development event that I have attended has helped mold me into the teacher that I am today. They also look really good on my resume, so I encourage all student teachers to take advantage of as many professional development opportunities offered at Rider or by their school districts as possible. The education world is always changing and it is the responsibility of each and every teacher to keep up with the changes through professional development.