Professional Development takes many forms

Tips from Susan Halpin, a nutrition and culinary arts teacher at Algonquin Regional High School and a member of MTA's New Member Committee.

Professional development comes in many different forms. I try to keep abreast of classes offered through my district and also through community sources. Each has provided worthwhile opportunities that do not cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. Right at my fingertips, and also free, the Internet is a great resource that has helped me develop into the professional that I want to be.

Susan HalpinI heard about my first class through my district. I was able to fulfill my district’s new teacher class requirement and receive graduate credit at a reduced price. Assignments for the class were almost always materials that I could use in my classroom. Moreover, the sharing of information and feedback given and received amongst teachers was invaluable. I've taken three such classes, Differentiated Instruction, Instruction for all Students and the Skillful Teacher.

I also took a cooking course, Pate Choux, through adult education at a local technical school. Although this class did not earn me graduate credit, it was related to the subject I teach and I came away with several new ideas for lessons. Sometimes classes like this count for continuing education credit as well.

Lastly, the Internet has been an extremely useful resource that has enhanced my professional development. Through a master’s degree program in which I am enrolled,  I learned how to search and research more efficiently on the Internet. These resources not only help me become more knowledgeable about what I teach, they help me become more creative with my lessons, and provide my students the most up-to-date information available.

Although I am a new teacher, I am older than most new teachers. I graduated from college and wanted to be a teacher in the 1980s. At that time, Proposition 2 ½ was just passed in Massachusetts and jobs were scarce. Up until 3 years ago, I had never taught in a public school. Although I have a lot of good life experience and have all of the qualifications needed to teach my subject matter, I found that hearing new ideas and learning some new teaching techniques really helped me feel more confident and comfortable in the classroom.