A teacher is an educator of a school curriculum – but they are also so much more.
They play a pivotal role in the lives of many young students not only through teaching math, sports or science, but also educating them on morals, social etiquette, friendship and life beyond school. For some their teachers become their first role models – confidants even. The teacher-student relationship is something unique and is never truly replicated beyond a school setting.
When it comes to upskilling as a teacher, it is important to consider the clear paths such as further education. However, equally important are the less-obvious upskilling opportunities that focus on the relationship aspect of a teaching role.
We have outlined four different ways that a teacher can upskill and better themselves in this guide.
Complete a Master of Education
Postgraduate study is becoming increasingly important for a broad range of careers, including education. In Australia, a Master of Education is run slightly differently depending on your university of choice, however, in general the course is designed for a range of education professionals (including already qualified teachers and educators) to learn and develop their expertise in education so they can advance into leadership, specialist or coordinator-type positions in the workforce.
Often the courses will have specialised areas including leadership, wellbeing, diversity, arts and management, allowing one to build on their capabilities, further their expertise and ultimately advance their career in education. Opportunities will open up to work in the school system from early childhood, vocational and adult learning, right through to universities, community and even the government.
A Master of Education can be completed in as little as a year or up to four years part-time. With flexible learning environments now the norm, there are also online options available. Completing a Master of Education is one the more intense – but worthwhile – methods to upskill as a teacher and further your career.
Upskilling as a teacher can involve further education. Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash
Aim for a Head of Department Position
If you are looking to upskill without necessarily needing to head back to school yourself, reaching for a head of department position may be the way forward for you.
In the education field a head of department will generally focus on a single subject like math, history or art and will oversee the team of teachers in this field. A head of department may also recruit, interview and hire new teachers, manage onboarding and ongoing training to their team and even sit in on classes to supervise and provide constructive feedback to their team.
A head of department will also work with senior management to develop and align the department’s strategy and curriculum every year. They will help develop lesson plans and ensure they are consistently and effectively delivered to students. Depending on the role, a head of department may or may not continue to teach classes, so if you find a role that no longer requires this, be sure it is the path you want to follow before accepting!
Focus on Your Relationship-Building
News and education resource Education Week highlights the fact a student will spend almost 1000 hours with their teachers over the course of a school year. They also found that strong teacher-student relationships were associated with a number of key measures; higher academic engagement, better attendance and grades, fewer disruptive behaviours and less dropout rates. If progressing your career in education is not your goal, then these stats should highlight why upskilling your relationship-building skills could be an incredibly rewarding alternative.
Research for online resources to assist you in building your toolbox of relationship-building ideas. You can also reach out to your employer around upskilling in this space – your school counselors are likely to have excellent resources for you to pursue. Reaching out to your peers and colleagues is also an excellent method to upskill – they will have their own experience in forming relationships with their students and learning from their success and failures can be a very beneficial way to learn the best methods you can apply in your own classroom.
Relationship building can be the most important role for a teacher. Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash
Review Short Courses in Key Areas
Staying up-to-date with the latest advancements and technology in your career is vitally important, and it is no different for teachers. Students can be brutal, and you don’t want to be labelled as ‘outdated’ or ‘old’. Instead, you want to approach education in a manner that is exciting, relevant and engaging.
Use any opportunity you can to upskill in both fields you know and fields you may not be familiar with. Enrol in short courses or certifications, leverage free online learning modules and attend talks and seminars that are relevant to your field. The world is forever changing and it is important to acquire the skills you need to grow with it in order to take advantage of new career opportunities as they crop up.
Upskilling as a teacher can involve as little or as much effort as you like. From further study to simply listening to your peers, there are a multitude of ways you can enhance your skills, upgrade your knowledge and create a better learning environment for your students and colleagues. Choose what feels right to you, and watch as the success follows!