There is a great day of planning that goes into the work of being a teacher. On top of regular lesson planning, teachers often need additional time for professional development, administrative tasks, classroom maintenance, and other responsibilities. To manage all these responsibilities, teachers often have classroom aides or assistants, and they often do extra work during free time at school or at home.
But sometimes more time is needed to get things accomplished. That’s why some schools often designate specific days throughout the year for teachers to have uninterrupted time to focus specifically on their professional development. These days are often referred to as teacher in-service days.
What is a teacher in-service day?
National education standards and school policies are continuously changing, and teachers have to stay current with changing trends and requirements. Focusing on professional development helps teachers continue learning better ways to cater to the next generation and apply new discoveries in child development.
A teacher in-service day is a day for teachers to focus on learning new methods and strategies to improve their teaching. An in-service day differs from typical planning time because it is time specifically set aside for professional development, not for specific lessons.
Benefits of teacher in-service days
Having a day dedicated to supporting early childhood professional development does more than grow a teacher’s skillset. Teacher in-service days also provide teachers with an opportunity to solve any ongoing difficulties by consulting with other teachers or proposing changes to their school, meaning they can make impactful changes to their daily routines. For example, teachers may learn about tools that can improve their efficiency in the classroom, such as brightwheel’s communication app, a software that helps them centralize everything from lesson planning and documenting children’s progress to daily family communication.
Children also benefit from teachers who are given time to grow professionally, because it provides them with more effective learning experiences. For example, teachers may learn newly developed strategies that will help struggling children develop in certain areas.
When teachers are given the opportunity to enhance their teaching skills, they are more satisfied with their job, experience fulfillment in their career, and feel valued at their school, allowing them to be at their best in the classroom. Keeping teachers happy and thriving ultimately helps administrators reduce high turnover rates and attract highly skilled teachers.
What do teachers do on in-service days?
When organizers are planning for a professional development day, there are many ways to structure it. For some schools, that may be setting aside one day to review changes to education standards. For others, it may be several different days spent reviewing the effectiveness of a teaching strategy for a certain age group. An in-service day could have a set schedule of activities teachers are required to attend, or it could be a free day, where teachers can choose their own development activities. Regardless of the setup, the overall goal is always to maximize overall professional growth for teachers. Here are a few examples of what administrators may do for an in-service day.
Invite a guest speaker
Inviting experienced professionals to give presentations on different topics is one form of enrichment for your teachers. There are many topics guests can expound on. They may speak about professional topics regarding teaching strategies or educational philosophies. Or, they may speak about more abstract themes like maintaining work/life balance, transitioning to a new school, or managing conflict.
Incorporate team building activities
Taking the time to build a community amongst teachers helps strengthen the entire school’s performance. Encouraging teachers to bond means they’ll feel more comfortable sharing teaching strategies and working together to accomplish certain tasks. Team building activities that focus on creating trust and collaboration help teachers perform well individually and collectively.
Focus on new teaching techniques or strategies
New research and data regarding child development and education is constantly evolving. And new techniques and methods are always being discovered and tested. Helping teachers to stay abreast of new techniques and strategies helps to ensure that the children are getting quality education.
Review changes to standards or policies
It is normal to have continuous changes to a school’s policies and procedures. A lot of minor changes can be communicated simply in writing and don’t require a formal meeting. However, significant changes to school policies and procedures often warrant a larger in-person discussion to allow space for any questions, concerns, or feedback from staff.
Do skill-building workshops
Workshops are a great way for teachers to build on existing skills and hone new ones. You can incorporate exercises, role playing, problem solving, games, and more to make the workshops fun and engaging.
Collaborate with other schools
Networking with other early childhood learning facilities allows teachers to learn with and from one another. This promotes cooperation and collaboration, which will lead to more resources and support for all involved.
Leave time for feedback
The purpose of an in-service day for teachers is to focus on their professional development and growth. To have the most effective results, some adjustments may be needed along the way. Getting continuous feedback from teachers will help in making improvements so that each in-service day is better than the one before.
Lifelong education for educators
Teachers hope to instill a love of learning in their children early on so they will value education and learning throughout their lives. This same mindset greatly benefits educators, because children’s needs and education guidelines are always changing. Setting aside teacher in-service days is an invaluable benefit for teachers, children, and school administrators. When time is allotted for teachers’ enrichment, everyone wins.
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