Teacher Professional Development: Options, Costs, and Benefits
by All Star Staff
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Through teacher professional development, you can satisfy your own passion for learning, while also gathering the fresh fruit of knowledge to bring back to your students.
Teacher professional development can advance your career or move you closer to a long-term goal, such as a master’s degree or education specialist program. It can also boost your confidence and send you back to your classroom with new ideas and renewed energy. And most states actually require a minimum number of annual continuing education hours for you to maintain your teaching license.
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Choices for Teacher Professional Development
Professional development for teachers may include college-level coursework, seminars, conferences or online classes. The best opportunities for teacher continuing education are those that interest you personally and offer worthwhile information and ideas to enhance your performance in the classroom.
Here are a couple of the many opportunities available:
- Free Teacher Workshops presented by the U.S. Department of Education – These intensive two-day summer workshops address a full range of K-12 teacher topics. Session examples include “Journal Writing in the Foreign Language Class” and “Nature and Mathematics.”
- Accredited Online Continuing Education Classes – Find online classes offered by accredited colleges and universities that fit into your busy schedule. Classes are offered as part of the regular quarter/semester schedule or as a self-paced course.
Be sure to read up on all the requirements in your state by checking with your state Department of Education before pursuing teacher professional development credits.
Cost of Professional Development
The cost for teacher continuing education can vary widely. Some learning opportunities, such as the Department of Education workshops mentioned above, are free. Online courses through private companies typically offer 10 to 20 contact hours for under $100.
When you take a class or workshop from a school that has met the requirements to offer Continuing Education Units (CEUs), you can expect to pay at least $100 per CEU. Each CEU represents ten contact hours of learning. University courses are generally more expensive at a few hundred dollars or more per credit hour; however, you will also be earning credit toward a graduate degree while completing your required professional education. This double benefit can have you well on your way to the salary and job perks graduate degrees can bring to teachers.
Many public and private schools have funds to help their teachers pursue continuing professional education. After all, every school wants its teachers to update their knowledge, learn innovative teaching techniques and maintain their enthusiasm, so the majority of them are willing to support the growth of their teachers in this way.
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Finding the Time Continuing Ed
For the ultimate in convenience and flexibility, you can take teacher-education courses online and complete the work around your own schedule. A growing number of online schools offer teacher professional development courses, as well as comprehensive teaching degree programs. You can usually find a high-quality, accredited teacher education program at most of these schools, but be sure to check that the school you choose is recognized in your state.
Rewards of Lifelong Learning
Teacher professional development is a win-win situation for both teachers and schools, but ultimately it benefits students most. You get to learn and grow, and your career grows along with you. Soon you may find yourself craving more than just a few classes here and there, and decide.