Extra Teacher Training I Pursued as an Educator

Andrew C. McMillan
Andrew C. McMillan
High school principal; Ed.D. in Educational Administration
Mature students sit in a continued education class.

Education as a profession is full of rewarding experiences and opportunities to impart knowledge and impact students at all levels and ages. As educational professionals, our task is to mold young minds to be prepared for the larger world around them and give them the tools to be successful in any arena. Although our profession is that of teaching, our profession also calls upon us as educators to continue to be lifelong learners, just like our students.

The best educators continuously seek ways to improve their teaching skills and hone their craft to best serve their students. Our profession is constantly evolving and changing, especially in the last eight to ten years, with increasingly diverse educational models, emerging technologies, and multidisciplinary approaches to the education profession. As a professional educator myself, having taught at the middle and high school level, and as an administrator, having served in grades K-12, I constantly strive to improve my practice in various ways. One way is continued training and education for teachers.

Compassionate Schools and Trauma-Informed Practices Trained

As written earlier, the landscape of education has changed. Students entering our buildings today are bringing more and more social and emotional baggage with them. The challenges presented by students are leading to teachers and administrators seeking out ways to address and work with the whole child. Compassionate Schools Training and Trauma-Informed Practices training was one example of an excellent training that I had the opportunity to complete.

The Compassionate Schools training intended to increase our foundational knowledge of a holistic approach to improving educational and behavioral health outcomes by creating a trauma-sensitive learning environment that promotes resilience skills for all students. This specific training taught me how to analyze and evaluate the Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACES, that students bring to us. Our challenge is how to properly educate those students, knowing more about their backgrounds and how to reach them properly. In that same breath, understanding more about individual student challenges led to a comprehensive and total school approach of Trauma Informed Practices.

This training centered on school programs and culture that not only recognized the trauma that students have experienced, but also identified and illustrated various examples of how to counteract the trauma with evidence-based practices steeped in research and implementation to better serve the students from a total school approach.

Advanced Placement Human Geography Endorsed

As a former social studies teacher, I had the opportunity to teach advanced-level courses in the social studies field, notably Advanced Placement Human Geography. Advanced Placement, through the College Board program, offers multiple college-level courses that are taught at the high school level.

As a teacher, participating in Advanced Placement trainings further honed my skills, allowing me to learn more about rigorous course offerings, focus on providing college-level opportunities through my course, and gain strategies that impacted high-achieving students. Through workshops, trainings, and other professional development opportunities offered by the college board, I raised my teaching awareness and practices to an expert level.

Mentor and Evaluation Trained in South Carolina Teaching Standards 4.0

As a professional educator in South Carolina, we have state requirements for professional practice. One of these required pieces of training is an expansion of an evaluation system that has been present in our state for decades. Recently, the state of South Carolina adopted the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET) Teaching Standards 4.0 rubric. This evaluation system is designed for continual professional development for all educators and is a wonderful tool that supports educators with specific feedback and growth opportunities.

Developed for educators by educators, this training and evaluation process has helped me grow my leadership skills and has also allowed me to serve as a trained mentor to new teachers and administrators entering the profession. As a trained mentor, I can work alongside new teachers during their critical, formative teaching careers. Research outlining teacher retention is dismal when identifying trends of teachers leaving the profession in the first three years. Through this system, teachers have a valuable resource and mentor to lean on and learn from.

How These Additional Trainings and Endorsements Benefited My Career

The education profession requires a significant commitment of time and personal learning. As lifelong practitioners, we must remain ahead of the pack regarding our content, new ways of teaching, instructional ideas, and evidence-based best practices and remain abreast of current challenges in dealing with the increasing emotional, mental, and social health of our students. Specifically, the last ten years in education have seen a wide swath of change, with a growing rate of responsibility and accountability.

New and improved academic standards, teacher evaluation systems, school academic report cards, new technology and social media influence, school safety, and increased attention to students’ social and emotional well-being has led to many in the education profession to seek out ways to be equipped to better serve students. Personally, my career has benefited from various training opportunities as I have honed my skills and built my toolbox of strategies and interventions to better lead my school, students, and community.

Ultimately, learning is a continuous process, and regardless of the state you practice in, studying and training do not end after graduation. The continuous learning process is true for each educator, and as a profession, we must be proactive in our personal learning to provide the best possible outcomes for our students.

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