Continuing Education for Teachers – Why its More Important Than Ever

Published On: June 2nd, 2023·By ·

The educational field is continually faced with policy changes, emerging research, and continually evolving populations that demand a shift in the educational systems. Teachers continually take courses or earn additional degrees to improve their teaching processes. 

Continuing education improves the teacher's pedagogy, their understanding of learner needs, and their abilities to mentor each other. 

Some of the common ways of advancing their education include;

  • Mastering new learning technologies,
  • Deepening their subject matter knowledge, or 
  • Shifting into another area of education

Teachers continue their education through various options such as workshops, conferences, online courses, and mentorship programs. 

This article explores all the best ways for teachers to continue their education, keep their skills sharp, and become more fruitful in their careers. 

Reasons for Teachers to Consider Continuing Education 

Teachers in my school district engage in regular in-service professional development. My school district promotes teacher improvement by integrating professional development into the school week. 

Research shows that continuing education for teachers significantly improves learner performance because teachers become well-equipped to understand student learning processes. Through continuing education, beginning and veteran teachers can improve their content delivery methods and refine their skills to increase their efficacy.

Teachers can choose among continuing education options in their schools and outside them. For instance, teachers can enroll in seminars and conferences from local universities and state educational organizations. These may be taken for a few hours or even a week. 

The benefits of continuing education for teachers include: 

  • Creating an opportunity for promotions and increased salaries.
  • Improving your job efficacy and appreciation.
  • Enhancing your transition to a higher educational career.
  • Advancing personal growth and development
  • Promoting the acquisition of leadership and time management skills for efficiency. 
  • Enhancing your job security and marketability.
  • Preparing you for teaching at higher educational institutions such as colleges and universities.
  • Offers you opportunities for engaging and networking with professionals.

Continuing Education Requirements

The formal continuing education requirements depend on the states where you live and your area of specialization. Check your school or state's teaching board for specific continuing education guidelines.

Some states and schools require educators to earn a minimum number of continuing education units (C.E.U.s) or continuing education or credits earned (C.E.C.s) every five years to allow them to renew their teaching licenses. The process may include; development courses, advancement courses, workshops, and graduate credit.

Many working teachers pursue additional degrees and certifications for their career advancement. But, motivation and passion are key factors to becoming successful and fulfilled in the role of a teacher. 

Continuing Education vs. Professional Development

Although a professional development course can be classified as a continuing education course, some key differences exist between the two. 

Professional development involves investing in yourself to advance your career or increase your chances of getting a job in a new organization. Continuing education on the other hand includes any post-secondary course that institutions of higher learning offer. These may include personal enrichment courses required by the states for licensure renewal. 

While continuing education for teachers entails graduate-level course credits, professional development may include non-graduate-level credits only, resulting in a letter of completion. 

The proof of completion of continuing education programs or professional development courses is either Continuing Education Units (C.E.U.s) or Professional Development Hours (P.D.H.s). These terms need to be clarified. 

After completing a formal training program to enhance professional knowledge, teachers are awarded Continuing Education Units (C.E.U.s). With professional development teachers are awarded Professional Development Hours (P.D.H.s) based on contact hours of a presentation or training session. 

Continuing Education Options for Educators

There are various continuing education options for educators. Your suitable option will depend on what is required by your state. Let's look at the options:

  • Non-credit online courses. 

Noncredit online courses are educational courses that do not offer academic credit toward a degree or certification. They appeal to teachers because they are flexible, affordable, and available in wide varieties. The coursework is completed at home at the convenience of the educator and usually takes a few weeks. The course content is directly applicable to classroom work for learners. 

The length, quality, and cost of the non-credit online course vary among the many options available. To identify a quality course, consider the reviews of prior participants.  

Online courses offer some significant benefits to teachers, such as;

  • The ability to learn at an individual pace; online learning offers teachers great flexibility, allowing them to learn at their pace. It maximizes the potential for individual learning styles and processes. Still, the programs allow collaboration among the enrolled teachers and their trainers.
  • Teachers do not have to take breaks to enroll in these courses; Non-Credit online courses allow teachers to enroll and work part-time or full-time and hence do not need to take breaks to study. These courses then avoid the rigid scheduling of in-person learning; hence teachers do not have to put their careers on hold to further their education. 
  • Teachers can skip the commute to class; enrollees do not have to worry about the hurdles of getting to class. With online learning, the classroom comes to the learner. Costs for commute and parking are tremendously reduced as well as time that would have been lost in the commute. Moreover, teachers can enroll in quality courses offered by institutions in other districts or states. 

2. In-person classes

These are instructional programs that involve in- person interactions with the enrollees and their tutor or between the enrollees themselves. They enhance interaction and engagement between the tutors and the enrollees. It creates a platform where they can engage in class discussions in real time and enhance their understanding of the content. 

Continuing classes are always on the learning institutions' roster, appealing to individuals who prefer in-person classes. 

Besides the increased interactions in in-person classes, they enhance access to learning resources such as libraries, laboratories and others that may not be available online. 

Also, in-person classes enhance community and belonging as learners socialize and build relationships. 

The learning method for a learner depends on learner preferences, the circumstances under which they are learning, and their preferred learning style. 

3. Yearly Classes/Test

Education is continually evolving. Yearly classes are meant to help teachers stay current on changes in the educational world. Also, through these teachers acquire new teaching strategies that create more effective educators. 

Educators also get an opportunity to network, build relationships, and learn from each other through these yearly classes. 

Yearly classes and tests can be held online, in community centers, or college. 

4. Teacher Certification

This online continuing education-only option is viable for educators who need more certification for teaching, maybe because their school or state does not require them to have certification to teach.

Certification is essential because it shows that you have acquired the relevant education that allows you to offer quality education to learners. 

Here are some of the benefits of getting certified to teach;

  • Increases your earning potential– Teachers' salaries will depend on, among others, their formal credentials, such as their license to teach. Acquiring a teaching license is one way of earning higher salaries. 
  • Enhance your options– Many international schools will only engage teachers with certification. Certification will open doors, allowing you more options for teaching in better-paying positions. 
  • Certification makes you a more effective teacher– Learning from a complete licensure program opens your eyes to new teaching methods that enhance content delivery to your learners.

Also, a certification program may fill any knowledge gaps, making you a better educator. Most allow you to shadow a more seasoned professional educator, enhancing personal and professional development. 

  • Enhances your credibility- Earning your certificate in teaching gives the state and public the confirmation that you have met the standards required to manage and educate learners effectively. This enhances your credibility and recognition as a qualified educator. 

5. Degree Programs

Entire degree programs or advanced degrees can be taken at online or traditional universities. They help teachers earn continuing education credits (C.E.U.s), preparing them for new opportunities and responsibilities. 

To earn C.E.U.s, teachers do not require a full degree program. But, having one is a sure way to advance their career and earning potential. 

Teaching degree programs can be classified into Associate, Bachelor, Master, and Doctorate advanced degree programs.

Some of those include;

Associates Degree Programs

  • Associate degree in education technology
  • Associate degree in library science
  • Associate degree in special education

Note; more than an associate degree is needed to become a teacher but teacher assistants with pathways for career progression. 

Bachelor of Education programs

  • Bachelors in Education (BA / BS)
  • Online Bachelor of Applied Science in Early Childhood Studies
  • Bachelor of Arts in Child Development
  • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education (P-5)
  • Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education

Masters Education Programs

  • Master in Teaching Degrees
  • Master of Education (M.Ed)
  • Master of Science in Education (M.S.Ed)
  • Masters in Teaching (M.I.T.)
  • Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.)
  • Masters in Reading Education
  • Master in Secondary Education
  • Master in General Education

Doctorate Programs

  • Doctor of Education 
  • Ed. D in Higher Education 

6. Workshops and Seminars

Workshops and Seminars are affordable short, duration programs that seek to ensure continuous teacher education. They help meet professional development requirements and build teachers' confidence, skills, and awareness of current educational issues, enhancing their efficacy. 

From these workshops, teachers acquire hands-on training and practical application knowledge on tackling emerging issues in education. 

Some of the benefits of workshops and seminars include;

  • Teachers learn from the experts- newly recruited teachers can engage and learn from the best individuals in their subject area. Workshops equip them with the practical tools to ensure a long, effective teaching career. 
  • Workshops and seminars are flexible- some courses can be attended online and are designed to fit into your teaching schedule. 
  • Enhanced student achievement- teacher workshops provide teachers with invaluable tricks and knowledge on understanding learner strengths and weaknesses. They can then design teaching methods to cater to varying students' abilities. 
  • Leadership skills- Teachers require leadership skills to guide them in dealing with poorly behaved and out-of-control learners. Workshops equip teachers with the best techniques to improve these leadership skills. 

7.  Conferences and Networking Events

Conferences and networking events are opportunities for teachers to learn from experts in the field, network with other professionals, and acquire new perspectives and views in their educational careers. 

To get information on upcoming teacher conferences and events, you can visit the school district's or your state's Department of Education notice board or information wall. 

Also, get looped with your H.O.D., principal, or professor, as they usually get invitations to such events. 

Also, you can subscribe to emails from teaching communities in your district, state, or area of expertise. 

Tips to Choose the Right Continuing Education Option for Yourself

Making the right decision for your continuing education is critical for seamless career progression. Here are my best recommendations;

  • Scrutinize the program description

You can use the course reviews and feedback from former student teachers before enrolling. Consider the following;

  1. The learning approach- lean towards an active-learning approach.
  2. Does it provide feedback from field experts?
  3. Is the course's intention coming out?
  4. Examine the course's learning outcomes.

The expected outcomes will help you understand the depth of the course content; broad approach or in-depth. Consider how the course outlines its learning outcomes. Are they measurable, specific, and achievable? Are they clear and outlined in precise language? This will give an insight into the instructor's presentation style and approach to communicating the content. 

  • Audit the faculty credentials.

The level of understanding of the faculty will help you determine if a meaningful course will be offered. Consider the tutors, their credentials, their areas of specialization, and their publications in the area of specialization.

  • Consider the quality of their production.

Poor-quality video and audio deter you from effective learning. Valuable content must be presented in quality productions to enhance understanding. 

Ensure the program is presented in an orderly, professional format with clear visual contents and clear audio.

  • Analyze the price

Consider other courses at the same level to understand the average cost. A surprisingly low cost may be an indicator that corners will be cut. Use the course cost and production quality to guide you in determining the suitability of the course. 

  • Talk to your employer about the options they value the most and believe 

If you are taking the course to allow for certificate renewal, it is essential to ensure that your school district approves it. Talk to your H.O.D.s and experts in the same area of specialization to know the value of the course.

This will save you a lot of time and money that could be wasted pursuing the wrong course. 


What to Expect from Continuing Education?

Continuing education gives you an opportunity to be a lifelong learner. You can acquire knowledge on a subject matter that interests you or seek to gain more knowledge for your specific teaching area. 

There are many positive outcomes of continuing education for teachers.

Here are some benefits of continuing education for educators;

  • You acquire new knowledge– Pursuing continuous learning helps you acquire new hard and soft skills for better career efficacy. Hard skills in education include; a thorough mastery of the content area, an understanding of the curriculum, knowledge of English as a Second Language, impressive organizational skills, and lesson planning skills. 

Continuing education for educators helps you acquire soft skills such as teamwork, leadership, patience, analytical thinking, communication, and empathy.

  • It's an opportunity to exchange ideas, personal experiences, and stories– Whether synchronous or asynchronous, continuing learning opportunities help build relationships with other educators. 

Some focus on teamwork and collaboration as they include group work and discussion boards to ensure that the enrolled educators share ideas and learn from each other. You might also engage in activities focussing on effective communication and building trust within yourselves. 

  • You gain deep learning experiences– Continuous learning programs create a platform through which you meet other professionals in a different or similar field as yours. 

Educators meet experts in their learning areas through educational conferences, professional organizations, and certification programs, granting them an invaluable opportunity to engage and gain deep learning experiences. The professionals you meet in these continuing education programs may be critical to your career advancement through collaborative research projects or publications. 

  • You examine learning material through short-term sessions– Educators have the opportunity to engage with different learning materials. These include message boards, videos, and learning modules. 

Some programs may grant you membership opportunities with access to databases, social networks and career newsletters. These resources come in handy during further career development. 

  • It is a suitable time for self-reflection– Continuing education sessions provide an appropriate time for self-reflection. You may reflect on your career growth, the more suitable pathway, and the skills you have acquired versus the ones you have required. 

Self-reflection enhances confidence in your decisions, abilities, and career direction. During these sessions, practice more self-talk, and learn about leadership skills and suitable leadership models for effective learning environments. 

  • You acquire skills for creating an interactive, engaging learning environment– Continuing education keeps you updated on new teaching and learning strategies that promote an interactive class for enhanced learning. 

Educators who engage in continuous learning develop skills for creating an interactive, engaging classroom environment that optimizes learning.  

Ready to Improve Your Education?

So, continuing education comes in different forms requiring different levels of commitment. Analyze each one of them keenly to determine suitability. If you are an educator looking to improve your education, here are several ways in which you can accomplish this goal; 

  • Post Secondary degree programs can involve undertaking an undergraduate program, attending graduate programs or enrolling on a post-secondary degree program.
  • Teacher certification programs- some are a requirement for renewal of teaching license. Understand the required programs for your license renewal.
  • Conferences and summits- these professional events will offer you an opportunity to share ideas, learn from the experts, and keep updated on current trends in your field of interest. 
  • Continuing Education Courses- You may decide to enroll in non-credit awarding classes. These provide training in a specific subject or skills. Enrollees get a certificate of completion. 
  • Self-paced Online Courses- Most are free and offered by organizations and colleges. They do not have a due date of commencement and completion hence are flexible and fit into educators' schedules. 
  • College Courses- these are offered as both in-person and online study programs. Educators enroll in universities and community colleges to pursue and complete individual college courses.
  • Workshops and Seminars- these short-duration events provide a hands-on opportunity for continuous learning in smaller groups. They allow for networking which may encourage future collaborations in publications and research.

Although most of the continuing education courses cost money, some are free. Some may award you a certificate of completion, and others Continuing Unit Credits. 

Contact us now and find out the right continuing education course for you. You’ll be guided on the online education for our courses, and requirements.

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