Why is Online Teacher Professional Development Important?
Today we’re discussing online teacher professional development. But why?
You went to college, you have your degree, and you’ve started teaching at your dream school. Your kids love you, you love them, and you feel pretty good about how things are going. But now you keep hearing this phrase: “professional development”. What is it? Why is it yet another after-school meeting?!….
Well, as it turns out, professional development is actually extremely important for educators! Colleges and universities can only teach you so much in 4 years! The world, the students in it, and the classroom environment are forever changing. Professional development helps with that!
Professional development is any training that enables educators to improve their abilities to reach students and enhance their learning. These trainings could center around topics such as classroom and behavior management, diversity and/or inclusion, trauma-informed practices, learning styles, participation techniques, new curriculums, and more! They can also cover topics that help teachers manage their lives and stress levels. These are all topics that change as the years go on, and that 4-year degree by itself will not be enough to keep you current and up to date.
Think about classrooms 10 – 20 years ago … anybody else remember overhead projectors and wet-erase markers!? Up until a few years ago, when I volunteered for a district-wide technology pilot project, I had to share a data projector with two other teachers, and when it was busy I was still using my trusty overhead projector.
This is where professional development comes into focus. Without professional development, today’s teachers might still use those, without new ideas about the benefits of technology in the classroom! We expect our students to always be willing to learn and grow, we should expect the same of ourselves.
There are a variety of ways for educators to obtain professional development. In most cases, your school or district will provide you with the professional development hours you need. (In many places, there are minimum requirements.)
However, sometimes, you can find amazing resources outside of your building. There are conferences, books, podcasts, and blogs/websites. In some instances, even if one of these resources costs, your school/district administration might be willing to cover that cost for you. Always ask administrators to cover the cost of your professional development. Sometimes they say yes!
To help get you started on your professional development goals, I’ve compiled a list of some amazing places to find online teacher professional development. Several of them are free, but some do have fees (I have tried to note this – fees/costs are current as of the time of publication and may be subject to change). This is not an exhaustive list and a search of the web will undoubtedly lead you to nearly any topic you need.
Online Resources for Professional Development
Educational Tool Name: Lit Launch: The Middle School Reading Engagement Framework
Purpose/Function of Education Tool: This is a professional development course for middle school teachers. In this course, you will transform your reading instruction in 4 weeks by learning how to craft engaging reading lessons.
Cost: See website.
Educational Tool Name: Education Week
Purpose/Function of Education Tool: Raise awareness about issues going on in the school system. With data and research articles to keep teachers up to date with the current teaching climate.
Cost: Various subscription models. As low as $9.95/month, and up to $97/year
Educational Tool Name: Eschool News
Purpose/Function of Education Tool: Monthly newspaper to inform teachers about education technology so you can stay up to date and use the best tools to improve student learning.
Cost: Free registration for educators.
Educational Tool Name: Shake Up Learning
Purpose/Function of Education Tool: Podcasts, online courses, and other educational resources to help teachers keep up to date with innovations with technology as well as within curriculums.
Cost: Some free resources, with paid courses available.
Educational Tool Name: We Are Teachers
Purpose/Function of Education Tool: Teacher-to-teacher articles and videos, sharing advice for the classroom and your career, as well as humour to utilize or for your own well-being.
Cost: Free resources.
Educational Tool Name: English Companion
Purpose/Function of Education Tool: Community blog for teachers to ask questions and get help regarding English topics.
Educational Tool Name: TeachHUB Education Blog
Purpose/Function of Education Tool: Blog surrounding teachers to use classroom activities, keep up to date with all things teaching, and a support system through relatable articles.
Educational Tool Name: Nerdy Book Club
Purpose/Function of Education Tool: Online book club to share your love for reading, including blog posts, a podcast, and more in recommending titles. Could be used to increase engagement in literacy or further engagement where it already exists in students. Podcast available here: https://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/the-nerdy-bookcast/
Educational Tool Name: KQED
Purpose/Function of Education Tool: Offers a plethora of professional development and classroom resources, including a podcast, as well as fun and engaging interactive tools to get kids talking and reading about current events affecting their lives. Focus on middle and high school classrooms.
Educational Tool Name: National Council of Teachers of English
Purpose/Function of Education Tool: A collaboration of teaching strategies to bring together journals, publications, and resources to further educator expertise.
Cost: $45 for a standard membership. With options for buying specific journals only.
Educational Tool Name: TedEd
Purpose/Function of Education Tool: A library of TED-Ed video-animated lessons, or videos that can be used to enhance lessons, or create your own lesson, with customized questions to prompt discussion for the video content. Options for students, educators, and parents.
Cost: Free, but a login is required for some tools.
Educational Tool Name: SchoolTube
Purpose/Function of Education Tool: A platform for video content (like YouTube) focused on school-related content. Useful for making lessons more engaging and adding to the lesson plan.
Cost: Free for teachers, or $39/year for ad-free viewing.
Educational Tool Name: PBS LearningMedia
Purpose/Function of Education Tool: For elementary grades and up! Offers a variety of professional development resources on planning, instruction, and assessment. Includes discipline resources for classroom subjects by grade level! Selecting the “Subjects” drop-down arrow also provides a multitude of lesson plans and student-friendly videos organized by subject!
Cost: Free. Creating an account allows access to additional features! Students can also create an account. Compatible with several classroom tools your district may already be using, such as Google Classroom, Remind, Schoology, and Clever.
Educational Tool Name: ASCD
Purpose/Function of Education Tool: A vast professional development resource for instruction and leadership skills and strategies. Resources, information, and books are available for nearly any education-related topic.
Cost: Free. Some resources cost, such as their symposiums, books, and conferences. Webinars are free! Membership options are also available, for a variety of costs ranging from $59 to $538. Some memberships include discounts on travel, school supplies, identity protection, and insurance.
Educational Tool Name: 2 Peas and a Dog: Middle School Teaching Resources
Purpose/Function of Education Tool: A blog and store providing lessons, resources, and tips for middle school classrooms. Topics include classroom subjects, classroom management, technology, and various teaching strategies (see: Lessons & Assessments).
Cost: Free, with some resources available for purchase on TeachersPayTeachers.
There is a huge wealth of online teacher professional development out there, and it’s definitely something that all teachers should take advantage of. The ever-expanding volume of resources on the internet makes it easier than ever to stay current in your teaching practices and learn about whatever you want when you want.
Professional Development Resources
- 15 Professional Development Books for English Teachers
- Managing the Professional Development Paper Overload