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Teacher Professional Development Activities

Teacher Professional Development Activities
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  • 0:00 Need for Professional…
  • 1:43 Professional Development Costs
  • 2:26 Professional Development Ideas
  • 5:33 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Esther Bouchillon

Esther has taught middle school and has a master's degree in gifted education.

In this lesson, we will discuss why professional development is essential for teachers and types of professional development activities. We will also briefly cover state requirements and paying for professional development.

Need for Professional Development

Would you want to have a doctor perform surgery who never read another medical journal after completing his college training to operate on you? If a politician told you he never stays informed about current events, would you vote for him? Suppose you needed a lawyer. Would you hire someone who wasn't knowledgeable about the newest laws? Generally, when hiring someone, you want them to be up to date on current research and trends. The same is true for hiring teachers. State standards change, educational laws and research on best practices all change. Professional development helps teachers keep current on the many changes in education.

Another reason professional development is important is because it can help teachers improve in an area of weakness. Good teachers recognize that they have areas that could be improved. Whether your area of weakness is content knowledge, differentiated instruction, understanding and relating to a certain population of students, classroom management, or anything else related to teaching, professional development is available to help you grow as a teacher.

Due to the importance of professional development, all states have laws and rules regarding the continuing education of teachers. Many require teachers to complete a certain number of development hours or earn a specific number of credits before renewing teaching licenses. Each state is different regarding what is necessary for an activity to qualify for professional development hours or credits, so before completing a professional development activity, check with your district's license renewal specialists to find out what your state requires.

Professional Development Costs

It's important to consider the cost for professional development. While some districts pay for professional development opportunities, others do not. It never hurts to ask. Be sure to have the details of the opportunity, whether a substitute will be needed, and why you think the professional development will help you grow as a teacher. Being willing to share the information you learned with colleagues can also help persuade the district to pay for sending you. After all, it's cheaper to send one teacher who will then come back and teach others than to hire a speaker to address the entire faculty. If your district doesn't pay for professional development, many free professional development programs are also available.

Professional Development Ideas

There are many ways teachers can obtain professional development. Let's look at several common ones. Conferences are perhaps the most common form of professional development. Some conferences are subject- or grade-specific or may focus on a particular theme. One benefit of attending a conference is the opportunity to learn about a variety of topics and hear many different speakers. Another benefit is that many professional development credits or hours can be earned during the one event. However, conferences tend to be expensive and usually require the school to hire a substitute teacher.

Workshops are similar to conferences, but usually only last one day or less. Teachers may attend a workshop at an offsite location or host a workshop at their school. While some organizations charge a fee for presenting, there are also many organizations that will present for free if a certain number of teachers attend.

A webinar is much like a workshop, but takes place entirely online. Depending on the format, you may be able to call in and ask questions or type to communicate with the speaker and other attendees. Many webinars are free or only charge a small fee, which makes them an excellent way to hear from speakers that may have otherwise been more expensive.

Book clubs can be a wonderful and free form of professional development. Books on new educational research are constantly being written. All that is needed for this experience are a few copies of the book, a principal or veteran teacher willing to lead the group, and fellow committed teachers. Be sure to check with your state on whether a book club will count towards earning professional development hours or credit before beginning.

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