Professional Development: Why It’s Important for Adult Basic Education Teachers

Written by Bryan McCormick, First Literacy Program Director

importance-of-professional-development-for-ABE-teachers-first-literacy-blog-imageAs an Adult Basic Education (ABE) teacher in Massachusetts, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest teaching techniques, technologies, and best practices in the field. Being up to date helps teachers in countless ways that will improve students’ learning outcomes and create new opportunities for them. In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of professional development for ABE teachers and how to find the right opportunities for you.

Why Professional Development is Important for ABE Teachers

1. Keep up with changing education standards

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) frequently changes teaching standards, and it’s important for ABE teachers to keep up with them. Professional development opportunities allow ABE teachers to stay informed of the latest standards and ensure these requirements are being met in the classroom.

2. Learn and improve teacher facilitation techniques

Solid teacher facilitation techniques can be a game changer in the classroom. These techniques can be just as important as the content you teach. Learning time management, classroom pacing, formative assessment techniques and different teaching styles will improve student outcomes and help create a classroom full of engaged adult learners. There is no end to what you can learn and apply to your classroom.

3. Network with other Adult Basic Education professionals

Professional development opportunities provide ABE teachers with a chance to network with other professionals in the field. This can help you stay connected with others who share your interests and goals, and potentially even lead to new opportunities or collaborations. The ABE field is much more fragmented than K-12 or higher education, so networking with peers will not only improve student outcomes but is critical to teacher wellbeing.

4 Ways Adult Basic Education Teachers in Massachusetts Can Take Part in Professional Development

1. Attend a free First Literacy workshop

First Literacy professional development workshops provide free, evidence-based training and materials for Adult Basic Education teachers, program administrators, and counselors of adult literacy programs across Massachusetts. Our workshops are not one-size-fits-all, First Literacy workshops are tailored to the unique needs of participants by soliciting educator input at registration. Because we don’t rely on federal funding, we are able to adapt our workshop topics based on educator requests, not public mandates.

2. Explore continuing education opportunities at local colleges and universities

Many colleges and universities in Massachusetts offer professional development opportunities for ABE teachers. This can include continuing education programs, certificates, and courses in adult education or related fields. Even if a course is not designed for ABE teachers specially, they can still be extremely valuable.

3. Take advantage of statewide resources

The System for Adult Basic Education Support (SABES) is a statewide network of professional development centers that provide training and support for ABE teachers in Massachusetts. SABES offers workshops, courses, and webinars on a range of topics, including teaching methods, technology integration, and program management.

4. Attend conferences

Attending conferences is a great way for ABE teachers to learn about new developments in the field, connect with other professionals, and gain hands-on training in teaching techniques and technologies. The Massachusetts Coalition for Adult Education (MCAE) and the Coalition on Adult Basic Education (COABE) both offer annual conferences.

Professional Development Benefits Educators and Students

As teachers we owe it to ourselves and our students to continuously improve our practice. Finding the time and motivation to attend a professional development session after a long week of teaching can be challenging in the best of times, but the benefits of investing in continued learning are well worth the time and effort.

In the spirit of backward design ask yourself where you want your teaching practice to be next year and then make a plan for how you are going to get there. Go!

June 1, 2023

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