In this lesson, we will look at several ways teachers can stay up to date on trends in education. We will discuss topics such as attending professional development, taking a college class, joining a professional organization, among others.
Changes in Education
Have you ever looked at photos from five or ten years ago and noticed that fashion trends have changed greatly? Perhaps you have also noticed fashion trends from previous decades frequently come back into popularity.
Fashion changes from designers filter down from runway styles to the general public. Much like changing fashion trends, education trends also change frequently. Sometimes previous ideas even come back into popularity. While fashion gets ideas from runway designers, education trends are based on research and legislation. Better research allows the science of teaching to keep improving as we better understand how learning takes place and what can best be done to encourage students. Legislation regarding education enables lawmakers to address the changing needs of students and society as they change over time.
It is important to keep up with current trends in education since they determine what is currently accepted to be the best way to teach students. However, just like some fashion trends can be ridiculous passing fads, some trends in education may also change rapidly. It is important for teachers to stay current in their knowledge, but decide for themselves which research trends best fit their teaching style, classroom, and group of students. Let’s look at some ways teachers can stay informed about current education trends.
Even if you already have an advanced degree, taking an occasional class allows you to gain information about current trends in education. Most college and graduate school assignments require research and provide access to major journal articles through the college library. Not only can you learn about the current topics of the class, you have access to read and study any education topic that interests you through the library while you are enrolled. This is one of the more expensive ways to learn about current education trends, but some colleges may allow you to audit the class for a reduced fee if you do not need the credit.
Professional Development and Professional Memberships
Professional development activities are plentiful in every aspect of education, but they are not always updated or relevant. Be sure to research a professional development activity before you attend to ensure that the speaker is sharing current information. One reason to use professional development to keep up with current trends is that many school systems will pay for all or some of the costs to attend.
Joining a professional organization is a great way to stay up to date on current trends. There are state and national organizations for teachers in general, but it may be more beneficial to join an organization that is specifically focused on the area you teach. For example, join a science teachers’ organization if you teach science or an elementary teachers’ organization if you teach elementary school. A professional membership usually supplies you with a publication about current trends in that area of education.
Usually the publications do not include articles on broad educational research; rather, they focus more on how to implement the research in the classroom and how teachers are affected. Membership also means you sometimes pay a reduced rate to attend professional development conferences held by the organization, which also offer information on current education trends.
Subscribing to an educational journal is a way to stay up to date. However, if you are not familiar with scientific-style writing, understanding the articles may be a bit challenging. Reading books and blog posts from other teachers can also help you stay informed and are usually written in an easier to understand format compared to an education journal.
It is also one of the most cost efficient ways to stay informed about current educational trends. If your school district has a professional library, you may be able to request that the school system purchase a book that you are interested in reading.
Host a Student Teacher
Preparation for student teaching is focused on reading about the current trends in education. Hosting a student teacher in your classroom allows you to learn about new trends without having to pay for anything.
Many colleges will even pay you! Communicating with your student teacher about what they have learned in college classes can help keep you informed without having to read any research on your own. An issue with this method, though, is that you are receiving information second-hand, so it may not always be accurate.
Just as fashion trends change frequently, so do education trends. Trends change as legislation and research advance. Teachers can keep up with changing trends in a variety of ways:
- Taking a college class
- Attending professional development
- Joining a professional organization
- Reading books or journal articles
- Hosting a student teacher