Teachers have an extraordinary responsibility to shape young minds and foster a love for learning. But how can you stay ahead of the curve in a rapidly evolving educational landscape?
The answer lies in professional development—the lifeblood of growth and innovation in the teaching profession. Professional development is not just a box to check; it is a vital requirement for certified educators to stay up-to-date on the latest research, tools, and strategies that enhance classroom experiences.
But here's the catch: pursuing professional development can be daunting for educators juggling countless responsibilities. The demanding nature of our profession often leaves little time and energy for attending workshops, earning credits, or diving deep into the latest educational research.
However, with flexible professional development classes, you can enhance your knowledge and achieve your goals.
In this comprehensive article, we will unravel the intricacies of professional development requirements for teachers and how you can get empowered with the knowledge and resources you need to thrive.
Overview of Professional Development
Teacher professional development is important because it supports professional learning and directly impacts student learning. Good teachers are more effective at teaching students, and when they have access to continuous learning opportunities and professional development resources, they can become even better at their job.
This is particularly important for teachers working with students with learning needs. By supporting professional learning organically, teachers are better prepared to provide high-quality education and ensure that all students have equal opportunities to succeed.
Professional development can take many forms, such as workshops, courses, mentoring, coaching, peer observation, online communities, and self-study. There are many reasons why professional development is crucial for teachers, such as:
Ongoing research that expands your understanding of effective practices in teaching and learning
The ever-evolving set of problems and necessities that classroom teachers must meet in their interactions with children, their families, and their communities.
Legislative and policy shifts that affect teachers
Professional obligations in education always change, especially as students' needs and teachers' capabilities develop.
School leaders are fundamental in promoting and nurturing an organizational culture of continuous learning and collaborative practice. They can support teachers by providing opportunities, resources, feedback, and recognition for their professional growth.
Additionally, school leaders can model a commitment to lifelong learning and improvement by engaging in their professional development.
Having experts on hand is crucial to the success of any training and development initiative. It is essential to the success of any professional development program to have specialists. Some examples include:
Technical training: This focuses on developing technical, quantitative, and analytical skills to help teachers analyze student-performance data and use the findings to modify their curriculum or instruction methods.
Specialized training: This involves deepening teachers' knowledge and understanding of their subject area or discipline, such as mathematics, science, history, etc. This can help them teach subject-specific content and concepts more effectively and creatively.
These criteria offer detailed recommendations for creating and delivering effective professional development opportunities.
Leadership development: aims to enhance teachers' leadership skills and competencies, enabling them to take on new roles and responsibilities within their school or district. This includes developing and coordinating school improvement initiatives, leading professional learning communities, mentoring new teachers, or advocating educational change.
Classroom management: This addresses the strategies and techniques teachers can use to create a positive and productive learning environment for their students.
This can involve promoting student engagement and motivation, establishing clear rules and expectations, managing student behavior, fostering positive relationships, and facilitating cooperative learning.
Professional development is not a one-time event but an ongoing process that requires teachers to be reflective, proactive, and collaborative. If you want to become a National Board Certified Teacher, take PDPs as one step closer to achieving that.
By engaging in professional development activities that are relevant, meaningful, and aligned with their goals, you can enhance your professional competence and confidence, as well as your satisfaction and fulfillment.
Professional Development Requirements
A teacher needs to keep learning and improving skills. You must also complete a professional development plan (PDP) hours or credits to renew your teaching license every five years. The amount and type of PDP you need depends on your state and your goals.
You can choose from different PD activities that suit your needs and interests. PDP can help you become a better teacher and learner and benefit your students and career.
Professional development requirements vary by state and district, but most require a certain number of hours or credits to be completed each year or within a specific time frame.
Professional licenses for educators must now be renewed every seven years, up from the previous five-year requirement. To do so, within the preceding seven years, you must complete 90 contact hours of professional learning — equivalent to six (6) semester hours of college or university coursework (or any combination thereof).
These requirements may include attending workshops, conferences, or online courses and participating in peer observation and mentorship programs. According to research, highly qualified teachers make a difference in student accomplishment.
In addition to meeting these requirements, teachers should seek professional development opportunities that align with their interests and goals.
That could include attending specialized conferences or workshops, pursuing advanced degrees or certifications, or participating in research or other collaborative projects.
5 Elements of a Professional Development Plan
A PDP helps you identify the resources, strategies, and actions needed to achieve your desired outcomes. Below are the five elements to help you decide.
This is where you evaluate your current situation and identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT).Indeed.com offers an excellent post on constructing a self-evaluation to aid self-assessment.
You can also use various tools and methods to conduct a self-assessment, such as feedback surveys, personality tests, skills inventories, performance reviews, etc.
The assessment aims to help you understand where you are now, what you are good at, what you need to improve, and what external factors may affect your progress.
This is the stage at which professional goals and aspirations are mapped out. You can use the SMART framework to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals that align with your personal and professional aspirations.
You can also categorize your goals into short-term and long-term, depending on how soon you want to accomplish them.
Resources can include anything to help you learn, grow, and develop your skills and competencies.
The National Educators Association (NEA) operates a website with live and archived webinars for instructors seeking professional development credits.
The organization also hosts a podcast called “School Me,” while it's not eligible for credits, it offers tons of bite-sized “life hacks” for educators.
A strategy is an outline of how to achieve your goals and use your resources effectively. Every teacher has a story about a poorly executed professional development session. But how can you avoid those mistakes? By strategizing.
Strategy can include the steps or actions to learn new skills or improve existing ones, the milestones or indicators you will use to measure your progress and performance, the challenges or obstacles you may encounter, and how you will overcome them.
To improve your teaching strategy, you can review and adjust it based on your feedback and results as needed. Real-time data and reports provide valuable insights to school leaders and teachers about effective classroom techniques and areas for improvement in student achievement.
Active learning allows teachers to design and try out teaching strategies in a classroom setting, which can lead to more authentic learning experiences.
This is where you assess the outcomes and impacts of your plan and reflect on your learning experience. Evaluation can include the methods or tools you will use to collect and analyze data on your achievements and gaps, such as tests, quizzes, portfolios, surveys, etc.
You can also compare your actual results with your expected ones and identify what worked well and what didn't in your plan.
Ways to Earn Your Professional Development Hours
To guarantee that teachers and students are eager to learn, providing opportunities for teachers to engage in their professional development is important. You can have a go at these options and see what works for you:
One of the most convenient and flexible ways to earn your PD hours is through online courses or programs. You can choose from various topics and formats, such as self-paced modules, webinars, podcasts, or videos.
You can access them whenever and anywhere you choose if you have an internet connection. Online PD can help you learn new skills, update your knowledge, or explore new areas of interest. For instance,Shape Americaprovides physical education teachers with webinars that last for an hour.
Conference or Workshops
Another way to earn your PD hours is by attending a conference or a workshop related to your field or subject area. This can be a great opportunity to network with other educators, learn from experts, and discover new trends and practices.
You can also find conferences or workshops locally, regionally, nationally, or internationally. Some of them may even offer scholarships or discounts for teachers.
Courses or Certifications
If you want to deepen your understanding of a specific topic or earn a credential to boost your career, consider taking a course or a certification program. Universities, colleges, professional associations, or other organizations can offer these.
Courses or certifications can help you enhance your resume, increase your salary, or advance your position. For instance, the American Meteorological Society's Education Program collaborates with PennWest and the National Weather Service to provide a weeklong in-person teacher professional development program called Project Atmosphere.
Courses or certifications can help you enhance your resume, increase your salary, or advance your position.Study.com offers a variety of professional development offerings, including leadership and critical thinking courses.
Additionally,PBS now offers seven different online course topics that can help you deepen your understanding of a subject or earn a credential to boost your career.
Sanford Aspire offers free classes for professional development if you're seeking something more hands-on.
If you have more time and flexibility during the summer break, you may want to participate in a summer program offering PD hours. These can be residential or non-residential programs lasting from a few days to weeks.
Summer programs focus on curriculum development, research projects, cultural immersion, or service learning. Summer programs can help you enrich your teaching practice, broaden your perspective, or make a difference in your community.
One of the most rewarding ways to earn your PD hours is by becoming a mentor teacher for a new or aspiring teacher. You can share your experience, wisdom, and guidance with someone eager to learn from you.
You can also benefit from the feedback and reflection that mentoring involves. Mentoring can help you develop your leadership skills, foster collegiality, and support the profession.
Participating on a School Committee
Another way to earn your PD hours is by joining a school committee that works on improving some aspect of the school environment or culture. This committee can focus on curriculum development, assessment, diversity, inclusion, wellness, or safety.
You can contribute your ideas, opinions, and expertise to the committee's goals and activities. Participating on a school committee can help you collaborate with other stakeholders, influence positive change, and demonstrate your commitment.
Why Professional Development Matters
The benefits of professional growth extend beyond people to include organizations and society. Here are some of the reasons why professional development matters:
Teachers learn better ways to teach. By engaging in professional development, you can keep up with the latest research and best practices in education. You can also learn new strategies and techniques to enhance teaching effectiveness and student learning outcomes.
Teachers develop better organization and planning skills. Helps improve your time management, goal-setting, prioritization, and problem-solving skills. These skills are essential for planning and delivering high-quality lessons that meet the needs and interests of diverse learners. Also helps teachers cope with stress and avoid burnout.
Teachers gain knowledge and industry insight. It helps expose you to new ideas and trends in your expertise. You can deepen your understanding of the subject matter you teach and your work's broader context and implications. They can also learn about the expectations and demands of employers, colleges, and other stakeholders in the education system.
Teachers want to continue their education. Professional development can satisfy teachers' intrinsic motivation to learn and grow as professionals. It allows you to challenge yourself, explore new topics, pursue your passions and interests, and earn recognition and credentials. It can also foster a culture of lifelong learning among teachers and students alike.
Professional Development Tips for Teachers
Professional development can help you improve your teaching skills, enhance your students' learning outcomes, and advance your career.
However, it is not something that happens automatically. You must take the initiative and plan.
1. Assess your skills.
Before you start any professional development activity, you need to know where you are and where you want to go. Assessing your skills can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your goals and interests.
You can use various tools to assess your skills, such as self-evaluation, peer feedback, student feedback, or online surveys. You can also consult with your supervisor or mentor to get their input on your performance and areas for improvement.
2. Create a plan.
Once you have assessed your skills, you must create a professional development plan. A plan can help you prioritize your needs, set realistic and measurable objectives, and track your progress.
You can use a template or a tool to create your plans, such as a SMART goal framework or a professional development portfolio. You should also regularly review and update your plan to reflect on your achievements and challenges.
3. Expand your skill set.
Professional development is not only about improving your existing skills but also about acquiring new ones.
Expanding your skill set can help you diversify your teaching methods, adapt to changing needs and expectations, and increase your employability and mobility.
You can expand your skill set by taking courses, reading books or articles, watching videos or podcasts, attending webinars or conferences, or joining online communities of practice.
4. Develop a professional network.
Professional development is something that you do with others. You can benefit from the support and guidance of other teachers who share your passion and challenges.
Developing a professional network can help you exchange ideas and resources, learn from best practices and experiences, collaborate on projects or initiatives, and find opportunities for growth and recognition.
You can develop a professional network by participating in online forums or groups, joining professional associations or organizations, attending events or meetings, or reaching out to colleagues or experts.
5. Seek a mentor.
A mentor is someone who has more experience or expertise than you in a specific area of teaching. Seeking a mentor can help you gain valuable insights and feedback, develop new skills and competencies, overcome difficulties and obstacles, and achieve your goals faster and easier.
You can seek a mentor by asking someone you admire or respect, looking for formal or informal mentoring programs, or using online platforms or services that match mentors and mentees.
6. Continue learning.
Professional development is not a one-time event or a fixed destination. It is an ongoing journey that requires curiosity and commitment.
Continuing learning can help you keep up with the latest trends and developments in education, refresh and update your knowledge and skills, and maintain your enthusiasm and motivation for teaching.
You can continue learning by setting aside time for self-study, exploring new topics or areas of interest, challenging yourself with new tasks or projects, or seeking feedback and reflection.
In addition, the number of required hours varies greatly from state to state. Make sure to check on this every year.
Professional Development for You
Professional development is a requirement for most teachers and a valuable opportunity to grow as an educator and a lifelong learner.
However, it can also be challenging. Depending on your state and school district, you may have different requirements and expectations for how much and what kind of professional development you need to complete.
That's why checking with your state and school district before implementing professional development tips is crucial.
When pursuing teacher professional development, it's important to ensure that the training you receive counts towards renewing your certification. Many professional development providers make it easy by offering a request for approval form that you can complete.
By taking advantage of these opportunities for professional learning, teachers can improve their skills and become better equipped to meet the needs of their students.
Don't wait any longer. Start improving your skills and knowledge today, and become a better teacher for your students tomorrow. Browseour online courses for professional development now and find the one that suits you best.
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