What is Professional Development for Teachers?

Instructor: Bill Sands
Professional development for teachers refers to advanced training that addresses the need for professional knowledge in the classroom. Read on for more information on why this type of education is important for teachers.

Professional Development: What Does It Mean For Teachers?

When used in an educational context, the term professional development refers to any form of specialized training that helps school officials (teachers, administrators, etc.) enhance and fortify their professional knowledge.

Professional development is a crucial stage of the learning process for all teachers. While it is important for a teacher to have a complete understanding of the curriculum and his/her specialty, it is also important for that teacher to be able to effectively explain the information and communicate their knowledge to their students.

Teacher Recertification

In recognition of the importance of professional development, almost all states require a certain number of hours for teachers looking to maintain their certification. In order to keep their teaching license, teachers will need to complete professional development courses and demonstrate that their knowledge is current and up-to-date.

Depending on your state, you may need to earn anywhere from 3 to 12 semester hours or more before the renewal deadline. Be sure to check your state's requirements to confirm that you have the appropriate number of hours and will not risk losing your license.

A few states such as New Jersey, California, and Rhode Island, have eschewed state-wide professional development requirements in favor of more localized mandates. Rather than stating one single requirement, these states permit individual school districts to set their own rules when it comes to professional development. Other states are letting school districts have more say in the development process, even if they haven't completely turned over control. In addition, states like Utah and Wisconsin don't have state- or district-mandated professional development. Professional development is based on teachers' individual learning/development plans.

This shift is a direct result of the realization that students require personalized attention in order to succeed. While setting requirements at the state level is a good start, many educators have noted that the educational needs of one county can be greatly different from its neighbor, especially in diverse areas such as California. When school districts are given the power to regulate their own requirements, they can set mandates that best reflect the needs of local teachers instead of general rules that do not adequately address pressing issues.

Professional Development Courses

Teachers are generally exposed to professional development through education seminars, workshops, and classes. Professional development courses strive to provide a contemporary approach to teaching that takes advantage of modern developments without forsaking standard conventions.

Professional development courses focus on various aspects of the profession, and are typically highly specialized and deal with specific subjects at specific ages, as well as essential techniques such as classroom management and organization. The driving theory behind these types of courses is the notion that efficient organization and proper teaching techniques are just as important to a student's success as the teacher's own knowledge of a given subject.

A preschool science course, for example, may detail how teachers can use graphs, charts, and other entertaining visuals to win their students' interest and design interactive and engaging lesson plans. Other, more general courses might focus on instructional strategy and can explain how to create the perfect digital lesson.

Online Professional Development Courses

In this digital age, numerous professional development courses, webinars, and workshops are available online. If you're looking for a convenient way to complete professional development courses, have a look at's extensive library of Teacher Professional Development Courses, which are accepted for credit by numerous states.

Our courses cover every major subject area, such as reading, computer science, psychology, science, math, history, foreign language, music, and business, as well as teacher certification exams. Each course is self-paced and includes quizzes for lessons and practice exams throughout. Once you've completed a course and its required exam, you can request a Certificate of Completion which shows your professional development credit hours.

Earning College Credit

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