Literacy should be a natural skill of every modern person as it is the primary evidence of a person’s intellectual and cultural development. However, strange as it may seem, the level of literacy is decreasing nowadays dramatically. This is why the role of the International Reading Association (IRA) is difficult to overestimate. The main task of IRA is the promotion of high levels of literacy for everyone (IRA Official website, 2010, par.1). One of the main contributions made by IRA is the development of Standards for Reading Professionals that give instructions concerning development and evaluation preparation programs for reading professionals (International Reading Association, 2003, p. 1). All standards are of great importance, but Professional Development seems to be the standard of special importance.
Every educator should understand that professional development is a great responsibility that should be taken by him/her if he/she is going to build a successful career in the sphere of education. The essence of this standard is in the following: a candidate should understand that professional development is a career-long effort, a continuous process characteristic of any teacher, reading professional included.
The standards formulated by IRA can be visually presented in the form of a geometrical figure of a tetrahedron. The most eloquent thing is that professional development lies in the basis of the tetrahedron that means that it supports and ensures the successful functioning of a reading professional.
Positive disposition related to reading and teaching to read composes a necessary element of professional development (International Reading Association, 2003, p. 18). Any development cannot be an imposed process; it should go from within, by the free will of a person. There is an evident connection between a teacher’s disposition and the progress of a student. The display of ethical principles, positive attitude, and great appreciation of reading and students’ progress can become models for students to imitate. On the whole, a teacher’s professional development can become a model for students to follow.
No matter how knowledgeable a reading professional can be, he/she should pursue the development of professional skills. As the proverb goes, “It is never late to learn”. Teachers should formulate questions that are of interest to them, it is necessary to study the latest literature on teaching reading; it can provide answers to their questions and foster professional development. A necessary part of the development of professional knowledge is the organization and attendance of professional study groups. These groups can help teachers to identify, plan, and implement their personal plans and strategies of professional development (International Reading Association, 2003, p. 18).
Professional development programs can be of use for reading professionals. In fact, IRA offers a great variety of professional development programs in the form of meetings and events ranging from international conferences to regional meetings (IRA Official website, 2010, par. 1). Communication with people who share the same dispositions and professional knowledge is the best source of professional development.
Professional development should be also assessed for the participants to see the results of their activity and for the instructors to optimize the professional development programs and study groups. The criteria for this assessment are as follows: participant’s reaction, participant’s learning, organizational support, participants’ application of new knowledge and skills, and student learning outcomes (Professional Development Center, 2000, par. 3).
In conclusion, it is necessary to state that professional development is, evidently, one of the most important and one of the most demanding standards of preparation for future educators. Candidates should get at the fact that professional development is a lifelong process that demands constant participation and strong motivation.
International Reading Association, International Reading Association, and Professional Standards and Ethics Committee. Standards for Reading Professionals: A Reference for the Preparation of Educators in the United States. USA: International Reading Association, 2003.
International Reading Association. Official website. 2010.
Professional Development Center. 2000. Web.