Types of Continuing Education for Teachers

As a teacher, you know that the best way to be successful in your career is to stay on top of the latest education trends. And as a busy professional with many responsibilities, it can take a lot of work to find the time for continued growth that meets your individual needs. Still, teachers must keep their skills polished and up to date to advance professionally. This blog will consider non-traditional and traditional learning methodologies for teachers.

Non-traditional Learning

Independent Study. As you know the needs of your students and gaps in your expertise, independent study is a great way to help. This methodology is especially helpful if you are interested in stepping outside your comfort zone. You can learn at your own pace and choose what you want to know. The independent study also gives you the freedom and flexibility to learn from anywhere! One great strategy is to use the “Japanese Lesson Study” because you choose peers to create a learning community that build capacity, encourages growth, and can be replicated across the school. For more information, here is a great summary article on Japanese Lesson Study (download document below).

Research. One often-overlooked method of learning is educational research. Research is the process of collecting and analyzing information, and it can answer questions, solve problems, or prove hypotheses. The process includes framing a good question, selecting a study methodology, making a hypothesis, and then implementing the research process. If you have other teachers involved in the process, the “groupthink” is beneficial about going deeper into the quantitative and qualitative analysis. Further, once the results are tabulated, the teacher team now has a proposal for conference or a possible paper for publication to share that learning with the world. While this learning process is more organic, the results can be tremendous for the school, district, and educational community at-large.

Online courses. You are probably questioning why this is listed here as online courses have become more mainstream, but the inclusion is purposeful. Asynchronous learning is an excellent option for teachers who want to learn on their own time and about topics that are most applicable to them. School leaders expect teachers to personalize learning for students, so principals should do the same for their teachers – individualize the professional development process for their teachers through online learning. The right platform – like the Stride PD Center – affords teachers a way to learn anytime or anyplace whether at their laptops or even with their cell phones. This flexibility prevents teachers from having to create “sub plans” because they are leaving the classrooms.

Traditional Learning

Post-Secondary Degrees. A post-secondary degree program is often the most practical way for teachers to earn a higher degree in their subject area. These programs are often offered online and may allow you to work at your own pace, or they may be offered at a community college or university campus. Post-secondary degrees are an excellent way to expand your knowledge in your field and help you qualify for jobs requiring more advanced degrees. The downside here are the cost of the degree and the time-commitment needed.

Professional Certification. Earning additional professional certifications can show that you have learned and mastered a specific skill in your field. They can be used to demonstrate your knowledge and abilities to employers and clients, helping you gain new skills and improve your resume. Certifications also show that you are committed to the field, providing greater credibility than just a degree or classwork alone.

Conferences or Conventions. Everyone, at some point, attends conferences and conventions. These multi-day events help you learn about new teaching methods, expand your network of professional contacts, and make valuable connections for future job opportunities. They also allow you to share what you’ve learned with other educators who are interested in the same subject as you are.

Workshops. These short, intensive programs are led by experts who teach you “in the field” meaning they come to you to share those concepts or skills. Often, these are hosted by schools or districts with a whole school format – typically in staff meetings. In rare cases, the workshops take place over a weekend at a hotel or conference center and could include multiple sessions over several days.

In summary, teachers must continue learning – even if in the last few years of their career – to model life-long learning within the classroom. Be creative in your professional development and watch the results trickle down to students.

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