10 Kinds of professional development Teachers Actually Want

I have been a teacher for over 20 years. Do you know how many times I have been truly inspired by professional development? Well, you can count them on two hands. The other hundred or so times, I felt worse than I did when I entered the sessions. The words “bored,” “frustrated” and “irrelevant” come to mind.


18 billion dollars are spent on professional development in the US each year. With such a hefty price tag, it must be working, but teachers don’t seem to think so. In fact, a study by the Gates Foundation found that only 29 percent of teachers are satisfied with professional development, and only 34 percent think that it has improved.

With the extreme dissatisfaction of the very people it is supposed to help, what can be done? Teachers know what they need to learn, but most times, they don’t really have a say in the topics chosen. This is where the disconnect occurs.

Here are 10 kinds of PD teachers actually want.

  1. How to talk to lawnmower parents

Lawnmower parents seem to have multiplied in this decade. The positive here is that they adore their children and want to be involved: really, really involved. So, do we answer their texts at all hours of the night? Do we politely tell them that their involvement may be hindering their children’s development? Do we hand them articles to read? We need a little help here.

  1. Training on Teachers Pay Teachers

Due to the rise of cash-strapped school districts, school-owned textbooks and materials are in short supply. This has created a mega-business for Teachers Pay Teachers. Every teacher I know is a buyer, seller or both. It would be nice to have a session to share the best freebies, lessons and resources available.

  1. Ways to de-stress

Research indicates that 61 percent of educators find work “always” or “often” stressful. The mental health of teachers is suffering. Administrators need to take note by scheduling sessions that teach strategies for self-care and relaxation. A session of massages or a staff walk might do wonders for reducing anxiety. Instead, we have staff development that increases our stress by piling something else on our plates. This is counterproductive. Helping teachers with their stress and reducing anxiety will increase overall morale and productivity.

  1. Getting real on classroom management

Almost every teacher’s biggest problem usually has something to do with classroom management. Here are some of the things I hear my colleagues say:

“I have a student that bites me. What do I do?”

“His disruptive behavior really makes it hard for the other students to learn.”

“I have parents complaining about a child who is constantly hitting, but I have done everything I know how to do.”

“I leave crying every day because of the behavior of my class.”

Teachers need expert help for the escalating classroom behaviors that we now see. If there are strategies to help, we want to be taught them. Bring in the expert teachers or counselors to share their knowledge.

  1. Build your own professional development

One idea is for teachers to set a professional development goal and use the PD minutes to research and talk with colleagues the answer. Most teachers I know have a TBR pile a mile high—they just need the time for the research.

  1. How to conduct a parent-teacher conference

My parent teacher conferences go something like this: I go over data and achievement for about 5 minutes, and the rest of the allotted 20 minutes is spent listening to the child’s prenatal history. It would be helpful to have effective parent teacher conferences modeled during staff development.

  1. Trauma-based teaching

According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, close to 40 percent of US students have been involved in some sort of trauma such as physical, sexual and domestic violence abuse. So, we have more and more traumatized students in our classrooms, yet we do not know the best ways to help them.  Strategies and ideas are needed now in order to assist our most damaged students.

  1. Time management secrets from teachers who’ve been there

If there is one thing that teachers do not have enough of, it is time. There are just too many teacher tasks to complete in one day. One great use of professional development minutes would be to instruct teachers how to have more of it…time, that is. Prioritizing and cutting corners are essential skills to not feeling overwhelmed as a teacher. Proactively managing tasks doesn’t always come naturally. Learning ways to save and have more time would be a valuable professional development opportunity.

  1. Content- and grade-specific teaching strategies

One main problem of professional development is that it adheres to a one-size-fits-all philosophy. A kindergarten teacher, Ariana L., from Louisiana says, “I leave professional development so mad because NOTHING talked about applies to my grade level. It is frustrating.” Strategies to teach concepts should apply to grade level specific content or it is a waste of time that teachers don’t have.

  1. No professional development

I’m just saying….most of the teachers I know would tell you that the best professional development sessions they have ever had are when the sessions are cancelled, and they are allowed to work on the many teacher tasks that are keeping them up at night. Crossing a few things off the never-ending Teacher To-Do list is an invaluable use of time.

In order to involve teachers in the decision-making process about staff development, surveys can be given. The kicker is the information gathered must be used.

Let’s give the teachers what we want. We deserve it.

Source: https://www.weareteachers.com/pd-teachers-want/

7 Shifts To Create A Classroom Of The Future

Let’s take a look at this vague idea of the ‘classroom of the future.’ This is all subjective, but it’s worth talking about. So let’s talk.

Classroom Routines & Procedures (Elementary)

Below are some ideas that are truly transformational–not that they haven’t been said before. It’s not this article that’s transformational, but the ideas themselves. These ideas aren’t just buzzwords or trendy edu-jargon but the kind of substance with the potential for lasting change.

And the best part? This is stuff that’s available not tomorrow with ten grand in classroom funding and 12 hours of summer PD, but today. Utopian visions of learning are tempting, if for no other reason than they absolve us of accountability to create it right now, leading to nebulous romanticizing about how powerful learning could be if we just did more of X and Y.

But therein lies the rub: Tomorrow’s learning is already available, and below are seven of the most compelling and powerful trends, concepts, and resources that represent its promise.

The Challenge of Implementation

It’s challenging enough to manage a traditional learning environment where the curriculum is handed to you, and meetings are set, and you’re simply there to manage; adding more ingredients to the mix seems like asking for trouble. But the truth is, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to educate children in the face of such radical technological and pedagogical progression.

The good news is, many of the elements of a progressive learning environment—e.g., digital literacy, connectivism, and play—conveniently, and not coincidentally, work together. And better yet, collectively they can reduce the burden on those managing the learning because they place the learner at the center.

While it’s possible to tack these ideas on to a traditional classroom, and then sit back and wait for the clouds to part and the sun to shine brilliantly, you’ll likely be waiting a while. These aren’t single tools to “try,” but news ways to think about how learners access media, how educators define success, and what the roles of immense digital communities should be in popularizing new learning models.

None of it is really complicated—it just requires new thinking.

Tomorrow’s Learning Today: 7 Shifts Of Future Learning

  1. Digital & Research Literacy

It’s not so much that physical is “out” and digital is “in,” but that the sheer scale and accessibility of digital resources, connections, and spaces are overwhelming; if in no other place other than the mindscape of the student, when it comes to reading, writing, communicating, saving, creating, and sharing, digital is everything.

Even “school” ideas like literacy are all different now. Digital literacy is a trend that involves the consumption, comprehension, and curation of digital media. This is directly tied to research literacy, as both digital and digitized data sources serve as primary research resources.

  1. Shift From Standards To Habits

We’ve talked about this one quite a bit–most recently in Changing What We Teach, for example. This is among the biggest and most powerful ideas in “future learning,” and should be central to any meaningful discussion therein. What are students learning, why are they learning it, and what are they doing with what they know? In short, the shift from purely academic standards to critical thinking habits supports personalized, 21st-century learning through a preceding shift from institution to learner.

  1. Game-Based Learning & Gamification

Game-Based Learning aggregates the power of learning simulations, social gaming, emotional immersion, and digital literacy to produce a net effect of transparency and participation on the learner.

  1. Connectivism

Through social media, mobile learning, blended learning, eLearning, and other inherently connected learning experiences, it is possible to leverage the potential of interdependence and crowds. This occurs simply through crowdsourced knowledge (e.g., Quora, Wikipedia), visually through curation (e.g., scoopit, pinterest), and long-term through digital communities (e.g., YouTube, DIY, etc.)

  1. Transparency

A natural consequence of digital and social media, transparency is the opposite of closed, traditional schooling, where the walls of the classroom are tick and the local teachers and policies govern, judge, and process everything.

  1. Place

Spaces and places matter. What are they learning, and why? Add to that, where are they taking that knowledge to use?

Place-Based Education complements digital platforms that tend towards globalization. While it is tempting for learners to constantly connect with exotic ideas in equally exotic locations, authentic learning experiences allow learners to self-direct personal change in pursuit of social change–and that starts small, at home and surrounding intimate communities.

  1. Self-Directed Learning & Play

Self-Directed Learning is almost certainly at the core of the future of learning. To not allow learners to ‘play’ with information, platforms, and ideas is to ignore the access, tools, and patterns of 21st-century life.

Source: https://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/shift-learning-the-7-most-powerful-ideas-shifts-in-learning-today/

Teaching Skills Upgrade: Creative Ways to Up Your Teacher Game

Each new year comes with hopes, goals, and opportunities to improve. Want to learn something new and advance your practice? Here are some creative ideas to boost your professional development, up your teaching game, and supercharge your brilliant career.

Writing Prompts – 99

PD made personal

Education workshops aren’t the only path to professional development. Try these informal — and fun — ways to grow in your career.

  • Get out of school. Visit your local zoo to brainstorm an animal-focused science curriculum, or hit an art museum to find inspiration for cross-curricular lesson plans. Zoos and museums often have education directors who can help you use their resources, both virtually and in person. Some institutions also have programs just for teachers.
  • Be dramatic. Take an improv or acting class. You’ll improve your classroom presence and think-on-your-feet skills, boosting your confidence and enhancing your connection to your students. To make it more fun, convince some of your teacher pals to join you.
  • Learn for free online. Diving into a brand-new subject expands your mind and can stimulate creativity that carries over into your teaching. Online MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) are often free if you don’t need a certificate of completion, and offer a broad range of classes — coding, archaeology, 20th-century history, photography, and more — from top universities around the world. To get started, check out Coursera.
  • Join the club. Join an organization such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Council of Teachers of English, or the National Organization for the Education of Young Children. You’ll get access to teaching journals, magazines, and on-demand webinars that you can use for independent study.
  • Start a book group. Visit your school or district’s book room or your public library, and check out one professional development book each month. Read it, try it, use it, and then write up a quick reflection. Even better, ask a friend at school to be your book buddy.

Put your headphones on

Podcasts are a great way to pick up teaching tips while you commute, work out, or prep dinner. Here are some educator favorites.

  • Science Underground (2 min) TED speaker and inventor-scientist Ainissa Ramirez delivers fun, understandable science lessons — how space suits work, why fireworks explode — in two-minute hits.
  • The 10-Minute Teacher Show with Vicki Davis, the Cool Cat Teacher (10 min) Vicki Davis, a high school teacher and IT director, interviews a new expert every weekday about hot education topics such as cyberbullying and motivating special-needs students.
  • Educators 2 Educators (30min) Host Carrie Conover chats with educators about innovative ways to transform your teaching. Recent episodes have covered digital citizenship, diverse learning, resilience, and ESL.
  • Angela Watson: Truth for Teachers (30–40 min) Teaching coach Angela Watson serves up practical solutions for managing student behavior and motivational tips to energize your teaching.

Be a better mentor

Improve your management skills and clarify your teaching practice by signing on to mentor a new teacher. Here’s how to get as much out of the experience as you give.

  • Reconnect with your inner beginner. Now that you’re a pro in the classroom, you may forget what it’s like to have new-job jitters. Put yourself in your mentee’s shoes by trying something new yourself — kickboxing, ballet, painting, or anything to stretch beyond your comfort zone.
  • Branch out. Ask to be paired with a new teacher who has a different personality or teaching philosophy. Hearing a fresh perspective will help you both become better teachers.
  • Make introductions. Schools are complex social systems, so don’t just share your expertise, share your network as well. Being a connector is a great way to polish your own workplace social skills.
  • Put it on the schedule. You’ll likely have quick chats with your mentee in the hallway, teachers’ lounge, and via text all week long. But to be a really effective manager, set up an official weekly check-in meeting where you can sit together and talk through any challenges your mentee is facing that week.
  • Don’t give up. Your mentee doesn’t have to take your advice, and often may not. Don’t take it personally. Building your resilience as a teacher is always a win!

Source: https://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/classroom-resources/skills-good-teacher/

15 Professional Development Skills for Modern Teachers

When schools are looking to hire a teacher, there are a few basic requirements that they are looking for: A College degree, experience working with children, and, of course, patience. Teachers need a variety of professional development skills along with knowledge of their subject matter and experience in order to be an effective teacher.

Likewise, as the rapid developments in technology infuse into our lives, they affect the way students learn and the way teachers teach. Modern teachers need to be competent in not only basic skills, but new skill sets.

Here are 15 of the many 21st-century professional development skills, or as we like to call it, “Modern skills” that today’s teachers should possess.

1. Professional Development: Adaptability

In this modern, digital age, teachers need to be flexible and be able to adapt to whatever is thrown their way. New technologies are developed every day that can change the way students learn, and the way teachers teach. Likewise, administrators are changing and updating expectations and learning standards. Being able to adapt is a skill that every modern teacher must have. If it’s being able to adapt to the way students learn, the behavior their classroom exhibits, or their lesson plans, it is a definitely a trait that is a must-have.

2. Confidence

Every teacher needs to have confidence, not only in themselves but in their students and their colleagues. A confident person inspires others to be confident, and a teacher’s confidence can help influence others to be a better person.

3. Communication

Being able to communicate with not only your students but with parents and staff is an essential skill. Think about it: Almost all of a teacher’s day is spent communicating with students and colleagues so it is crucial to be able to talk clear and concise in order to get your point across.

4. Team Player

Part of being a teacher is being able to work together as part of a team or a group. When you work together as a team, it provides students with a better chance to learn and have fun. Networking with other teachers (even virtually) and solving problems together will only lead to success. Doing so fosters a sense of community not only in your own classroom, but school-wide as well.

5. Continuous Learner

Teaching is a lifelong learning process. There is always something to learn when you are teacher. The world is always changing, along with the curriculum and educational technology, so it’s up to you, the teacher, to keep up with it. A teacher who is always willing to go that extra mile to learn will always be an effective, successful teacher.

6. Imaginative

The most effective tool a teacher can use is their imagination. Teachers need to be creative and think of unique ways to keep their students engaged in learning, especially now that many states have implemented the Common Core Learning Standards into their curriculum. Many teachers are saying that these standards are taking all of the creativity and fun out of learning, so teachers are finding imaginative ways to make learning fun again.

7. Leadership

An effective teacher is a mentor and knows how to guide her students in the right direction. She leads by example and is a good role model. She encourages students and leads them to a place of success.

8. Organization

Modern teachers have the ability to organize and prepare for the unknown. They are always ready for anything that is thrown their way. Need to go home sick? No problem, they have a substitute folder all ready to go. Studies show that organized teachers lead more effective learning environments. So it is even more imperative to be organized if you want higher-achieving students.

9. Innovative

A modern teacher is willing to try new things, from new educational apps to teaching skills and electronic devices. Being innovative means not only trying new things, but questioning your students, making real-world connections and cultivating a creative mindset. It’s getting your students to take risks and having students learn to collaborate.

10. Commitment

While being committed to your job is a traditional teaching skill, it is also a modern one. A modern teacher needs to always be engaged in their profession. The students need to see that their teacher is present and dedicated to being there for them.

11. Ability to Manage Online Reputation

This 21st-century, modern teaching skill is definitely a new one. In this digital age most, if not all, teachers are online, which means they have an “Online reputation.” Modern teachers need to know how to manage their online reputation and which social networks are OK for them to be on. LinkedIn is a professional social network to connect with colleagues, but Snapchat or any other social networking site where students visit, is probably not a good idea.

12. Ability to Engage

Modern teachers know how to find engaging resources. In this digital age, it is essential to find materials and resources for students that will keep them interested. This means keeping up to date on new learning technologies and apps, and browsing the web and connecting to fellow teachers. Anyway that you can engage students and keep things interesting is a must.

13. Understanding of Technology

Technology is growing at a rapid pace. In the past five years alone we have seen huge advancements and we will continue to see it grow. While it may be hard to keep up with it, it is something that all modern teachers need to do. Not only do you just need to understand the latest in technology, but you must also know which digital tools is right for your students. It’s a process that may take time but will be greatly influential in the success of your students.

14. Know When to Unplug

Modern teachers know when it’s time to unplug from social media and just relax. They also understand that the teacher burnout rate is high, so it’s even more critical for them to take the time to slow down and take a moment for themselves. They also know when it’s time to tell their students to unplug and slow down. They give their students time each day for a brain break and let them kick their heels up and unwind.

15. Ability to Empower

Teachers inspire, that’s just one of the qualities that come along with the title. Modern educators have the ability to empower students to think critically, be innovative, creative, adaptable, passionate, and flexible. They empower them to be able to solve problems, self-direct, self-reflect, and lead. They give them the tools both digital and knowledgeable to succeed, not only in school but in life.

Source: http://www.teachhub.com/15-professional-development-skills-modern-teachers