Personal Growth and Practical Professional Development for Teachers
When I was beginning fifth grade, I overcame one of the many challenges life would offer me. I was riding my bike around the playground, and, while looking elsewhere, I rode my bike directly into a handball wall (I’m sure you can imagine I was quite the handful as a child). I fractured my wrist, and my parents and I were worried about how I would succeed since it was the start of the school year, and I felt like I would be useless. Luckily, Mrs. V., my teacher that year, would have none of that “giving up” nonsense.
Mrs. V. helped me succeed during that awkward fall (pun intended). Whether it was helping me write, finding innovative ways for me to practice spelling, or having students help me write fractions and equations—she had me covered. There was one thing that really bugged me that year, however: missing out on designing maps of the United States and labeling/coloring all the states and their capitals. Not being able to write them on a map with my injured hand, I was put to the test by running around a map we painted on the blacktop of the playground. Instead of having me recite the names of places like an automaton, Mrs. V. let me run from state to state shouting their names and respective capitals. As a fifth-grade boy, having the chance not only to shout but also to show off what I knew was thoroughly satisfying. Mrs. V. impressed on me the values of patience, hard work and seeing something through to the end—granting a very anxious young boy the ability to bask in newfound self-esteem and accomplishment.
Fast forward: Today, like so many busy millennials, I’m constantly striving to find more time to work on my skills, both professional and personal. The challenges of life can be frustrating. Deep down, many of us feel like we’re lacking something, not meeting our goals, or being unable to find time to invest in our own edification. Devoting time to something and finishing it—either at work, on a personal project or through professional development—grants us not only a form of catharsis but also a sense of achievement.
Here are some of my favorite places for online professional development resources and tools that I’ve found valuable for those of us who work in the busy, ever-evolving world of education. And, as someone who’s broken more than just my wrist, being able to sit at home in pajamas and access meaningful and worthwhile PD can be an ideal solution:
Professional Development for Teachers and AFT Share My Lesson’s Virtual Conference
What better place to find free professional development for teachers than the site where everything on it is free? The annual Virtual Conference 2020 kicks off March 24 and provides three full days of innovative, educator-driven free professional development. Interact with top education organizations, find 40 free webinars and join impressive keynote speakers like AFT President Randi Weingarten, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards President Peggy Brookins, Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford University and the Learning Policy Institute. Check out the topic areas here. If the schedule doesn’t work for you, all webinars will be available on demand, and you get a certificate that's eligible for credit emailed to you after successfully completing each webinar!
Digital Promise aims to infuse the latest science research into the development and improvement of products and programs that advance public education and improve learning outcomes. The organization’s innovative approach to professional development and microcredentials can help you develop new skills while working without having to rely on traditional PD frameworks that don’t necessarily meet the needs of today’s busy educators. Get started here, and see how you can save time and excel at work. After checking out what Digital Promise has to offer, check out what you can do with their Learner Variability Navigator, another free online tool designed for professional development for teachers.
This free professional development resource, brought to you by the George Lucas Educational Foundation provides myriad resources to engage your students in the skills necessary to thrive in their studies and on into adulthood. So, while Star Wars is cool, professional development that helps our kids soar through the galaxy is even better! Explore Edutopia’s rich repository of resources here.
Facing History and Ourselves
FHO offers professional development for teachers that puts the focus on critical issues like standing up to bigotry and hate. Through recognizing the shortcomings of those who’ve gone before us, and dealing with the past through storytelling and primary sources, research shows that classrooms using FHO resources motivate students to become upstanders in their communities by challenging negative stereotypes, standing up to bullies or registering to vote. Explore upcoming webinars, on-demand learning and other professional learning resources here. The organization also offers payment assistance. And FHO is collaborating with Linda Darling-Hammond at the upcoming Share My Lesson Virtual Conference. You can register for this webinar here.
Google for Education
Do you use Google Classroom? If you do, you’re part of a growing wave of teachers who have revolutionized the way we approach education in public schools. But there is far more here than just Google Classroom. With Google for Education, teachers can explore all the tools and solutions Google offers online, for free, helping educators do what they do best even better. Looking to become an expert on digital literacy and tools? Learn more here, and see how you can transform your classroom.
Learning Policy Institute
Aside from being a leader in the research sector on improving education policy and practice, LPI offers free interactive toolkits, videos and professional development webinars to help educators engage with the latest research from the experts. Check out this website and perform your own deep dive into content that’s driving innovation in how we approach education today.
National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
NBPTS, which will also be participating in the SML Virtual Conference has this pretty cool new program called ATLAS (Accomplished Teaching and Learning in Schools). So, how does this ATLAS help you map a way to success and personal growth? It’s definitely worth your while with its access to more than 1,300 videos showing National Board Certified Teachers at work and covering most subjects, grades and school settings. You can sign up for a 30-day free trial and see if it fits your needs.
Professional Development for Teachers: Final Thoughts on the Online Experience
Ultimately, many of us simply don’t have the time to run off to a workshop after school or on weekends trying to get the professional development we’re searching for. Online learning and self-selected professional development make it so much easier to discover new skills and abilities that help us thrive on the job.
Whether you’re a veteran teacher who’s familiar with traditional professional development resources or a new teacher hungry for self-improvement, networking and new skills, online professional development is a convenient way to connect to experts and colleagues in your field. And online learning is a great way to share expertise and continue the process of lifelong learning that inspires us to mold the minds of tomorrow.
If you’re looking to engage in PD in the real world, head over to Bizzabo and check out its list of upcoming education events. What are your favorite places to find professional development for teachers? Comment below and engage with the Share My Lesson community.
Looking for more free professional development for teachers? Join our Share My Lesson Webinars Community.