Teaching is a constantly evolving profession; new ideas and new techniques that may help you become a more effective educator are constantly emerging. However, ongoing training for teachers often comes in the form of expensive conferences that are beyond the district’s budget. What’s more, too much PD can feel like a distraction and a chore when balanced with your significant teaching load – all the more so when you finally schedule time for it, only to find the course you’ve chosen isn’t as useful as you would have hoped. How can you both find a way to make time for professional development and ensure you’re finding the best courses out there? The following list of resources may help.
Develop Connections and Create a Plan
Image via Flickr by mathplourde
Without a plan for professional development, you may make some progress, but it will pale in comparison to what you could do if you have measurable goals and a solid idea of how to achieve them. These resources go into how you can form your Personal Learning Network (PLN) and map out your path to advancement.
- What exactly is a PLN, and how can it benefit you? What tools are your best friends when it comes to beefing up your network? This series of articles explains the nuances of PLNs with an appealing mix of text, videos, and graphics. The blog’s author even wants to keep tabs on your progress; the “Your Task” section at the bottom of the first article invites you to write a blog post about building your PLN and to post a comment with a link to your blog post.
- Twitter is a top tool that educators can use to build PLNs, but how can you get the most out of the social media platform? Kid World Citizen lists some of the best education hashtags that you can use to join stimulating conversations. If you’re a Twitter rookie, check out the “Twitter for Teachers: Tutorial” that starts about halfway down the page. We also provide a comprehensive Twitter guide that you might want to flip through, and offered updated advice back in March of 2015.
- PLNs and Personal Learning Environments (PLE) are both important. This blog post from Real Teachers Learn explains the difference between the two and provides pointers on building your PLN. Even if you already have one, the section about cleaning up your PLN may give you the nudge you need to ensure that your network operates at maximum efficiency.
- Educatorstechnology.com offers 20 ways teachers can grow professionally using their PLNs. The list isn’t particularly easy to scan, but the information about PLNs is worth perusing. This piece also encourages you to take your preferred learning style into account when you are honing your teaching craft.
- PLNs are great, but do you also have an Individual Exploration Plan (IEP)? This post from Education Week delves into IEPs and how you can use one to cultivate your professional development. There is even a link to a spreadsheet template you can use to get started on your plan.
- Flipped classrooms are on the rise, but what about flipped teacher development? TeachThought examines the concept and outlines eight steps teachers can use to connect with peers and thus refine the techniques they use in the classroom.
Keep a Forward-Thinking Attitude
It’s easy to let the day-to-day stresses of work drain you of energy that you could otherwise use to hone your teaching techniques. How can you stay motivated to grow professionally? These resources may provide you with what you need.
- “Why most professional development for teachers is useless” is the title of this article from “The Washington Post.” While it doesn’t seem like the most galvanizing topic, the material will get you thinking and will help you to avoid the pitfall of learning new techniques but never applying them.
- One of the best ways that you can develop professionally may just be to slow down and think. A researcher from Oman presents his findings on how reflection can help educators grow. The paper talks about the different levels of reflection as well as how self-reflection helps you become more self-aware in your teaching.
- Teaching is a noble profession, but it can also be exhausting. This piece from TeachHUB offers some ways you can stay motivated and help your coworkers keep a positive attitude as well.
Gain Inspiration for Professional Development
If your PLN is in its nascent stages or you are just looking for some immediate inspiration to freshen up the way you teach, there are plenty of places where you can turn. These resources include free webinars, insightful videos, and bright ideas for professional development.
- edSurge serves up a treasure trove of a guide about professional development. It starts off with an amusing infographic before it dives deep into the specifics of growing your career. It includes field reports, a toolbox, and industry analysis.
- Blogs about education are one of the primary ways you can keep abreast of changes in the industry and see what your fellow teachers are doing across the nation and the world. The Edublog Awards offers a list of the standout teacher blogs of 2014.
- The old saying insists that practice makes perfect, and that’s just what this article about the value of live action role play examines. By practicing new teaching ideas before you try to implement them, you may find that both you and your students benefit.
- A fresh perspective can lead to great things. This list of the 50 best TED talks for teachers can help you see your profession in a different light, Some of the intriguing titles are “Education Innovation in the Slums,” “Finding the Next Einstein in Africa,” and “Digging up Dinosaurs.” For an Edudemic version, check out this top TED Talk list we put together in 2014.
- Scholastic provides On Demand webinars for educators. The webinars are available for a limited time after the initial broadcast, so titles change regularly. You must register for each webinar you want to view; take care to uncheck the box that says “You may contact me by email” unless you want to receive materials from the webinars’ hosts.
With the pace of today’s pedagogical and technological innovation, professional development is a must. But it shouldn’t be done just to check off a district requirement. Instead, from the administration to the teachers themselves, it’s important to choose professional development resources that are really tapped into that ever-changing pulse, and that provide teachers with information they really feel they can use. The links we’ve provided here are just a beginning, but they’re a great way to help school districts do just that.