Just like we tell students – lifelong learning is essential. That statement is just as true for them as it is for teachers. The world of education is constantly changing and if we want to empower educators to help students learn and grow, then we need professional development for teachers.
Effective teacher professional development (PD) can come in many shapes and sizes, including quick videos, online courses, and in-person conferences. Teachers no longer need to attend an 8-hour workshop to continue growing as a professional.
The wide variety of easy, and often free, technology available today empowers educators to create effective and engaging professional development content. And since tech skills are critical for both teachers and students, technology itself is a great topic for PD. For example, you can create quick videos to train teachers on new software, as well as how to introduce new technology into their classrooms to make learning more engaging for students.
In this post we’ll explore how professional development improves teaching and how to make professional development engaging and effective for teachers.
- What is teacher professional development?
- How does professional development improve teaching?
- Qualities of effective professional development for teachers
- 5 tips for effective teacher professional development
What is teacher professional development?
Professional development for teachers includes any resource or continuing education to improve and expand a teacher’s skills and further their professional career.
Continuing education is essential to make sure that educators are adapting, growing, and reaching the needs of our students. To support students in their learning, we need to help teachers develop their skills as educators.
Professional development can occur at the district or school level, or teachers can pursue professional development opportunities at their own pace, driven by their interests. No matter which of these levels you’re designing for – there’s always an opportunity to help others grow as an educator.
How does professional development improve teaching?
Even the kindest, most passionate, most empathetic teacher needs to have the skills and resources to be a great educator. Because maybe some of us were born to be a teacher – but we’re not born knowing how to be a teacher.
And that’s precisely how professional development for teachers can help. It gives educators the skills and resources to continually grow and improve as teachers.
For example, you could create a professional development course on strategies to build an inclusive curriculum for students with ADHD. An effective course might give teachers some great strategies and ideas so that future students have better educational opportunities.
Professional development courses are designed to improve teachers’ ability to effectively handle one of the million different obstacles they could face. For example, a PD course could focus on:
- New approaches to language teaching
- Classroom management for large classes
- Specific technology for classroom use
- Subject-matter mastery
- Parent-teacher relationship strategies
- Maximizing available resources
- Teaching strategies in low-income communities
The goal of any effective professional development resource is to give educators practical knowledge and skills they can apply to their teaching. Professional development leads to more engaged students, more motivated teachers, and a more positive school environment.
Qualities of effective professional development for teachers
Just like in our classrooms, there are a few qualities that all effective teacher development courses will have.
These continuing education programs should help motivate you to become a better teacher, which means they should be engaging. Here are four qualities that every one of these courses should have:
As teachers, we need to be thinking long-term for teachers, students, and the community as a whole. So naturally, these professional development courses should encourage a growth mindset.
The continuing aspect of these education programs is fundamental, as noted by the George Lucas Educational Foundation. We want to encourage teachers to keep evolving as a professional. To continue to improve their strategies, increase their understanding of education, and reduce the chances of burnout.
Effective programs focus on the long-term because it benefits everyone: the teachers, the students, and the community.
Now, this may seem a bit obvious – but a great professional development course needs to be exciting. It needs to inspire teachers and administrators to take action.
Because, let’s be honest – teaching is not an easy job. It wasn’t easy before the pandemic, and it certainly isn’t a walk-in-the-park now.
Professional development is an excellent opportunity to remind teachers why they became an educator. It’s the perfect time to inspire and motivate educators to continue their excellent work.
Not every continuing education course needs to be life-changing, but they should all be exciting. Effective PD should encourage a teacher to say, “Yes! I’m going to try this!”
Effective teacher development programs should be specific. For example, you could share classroom management strategies to support rambunctious students in Math class. You could create a technology training video to show teachers how to use a screen recorder for asynchronous instruction. Or you could create a quick video on how to identify symptoms of teacher burnout.
Specificity gives teachers actionable strategies that they can apply. Since the goal of any professional development resource should be to provide teachers with information and skills they can put into practice as soon as possible, specificity increases the relevance and effectiveness of your PD.
Design your professional development with a specific community or group of teachers in mind. Consider what grade levels and subject matter educators teach, where they are in their career as well as tenure at their school, and what skills they need to learn or develop to become better teachers.
The more you can personalize your PD to specific educators and their goals, the more relatable and valuable your professional development resources will be. For example, the classroom technology training you deliver to a group of experienced high school teachers will be different than what you develop for first-year elementary school teachers.
Every group of teachers has vastly different needs, challenges, and goals – so an effective PD resource for teachers will take that into account. Videos support personalized professional development for teachers by providing choices and opportunities for self-directed and self-paced learning.
5 tips for effective teacher professional development
If you’re designing a teacher professional development program, you’ll want to make sure it has all 4 of these qualities.
So how do you do that? Consider the topic, the length, and the community you’re aiming to help (specificity, remember?).
Here are five tips to help you plan effective professional development for educators.
1. Record the session
We’ve all made the shift to an increasingly digital world, and professional development in the form of video empowers teachers to learn at their own pace and on their own schedule to become better educators. These digital sessions can take the form of bite-sized PD, online professional development courses, or training videos.
So if you’re not giving a live PD workshop, recording a professional development video is an excellent way to make PD available to more teachers.
An easy screen recorder like Screencast-O-Matic allows you to record your screen, webcam, or both on any computer, annotate your recordings with easy drawing tools, and then edit your recordings and add captions for accessibility.
Whether you’re walking through a PowerPoint or Google Slides presentation, or giving a tutorial on how to use educational software, screen recorders make it easy to create effective and accessible teacher professional development courses.
2. Make watchable videos
When you’re creating a professional development video, take a step back and think – “would I watch this?”. Because if the answer is no, then your teachers probably won’t want to either.
You’ll want to keep your PD videos short and consider adding elements to your videos to capture and hold teachers’ attention as they consume your content.
With a simple video editor, you can easily make your PD recordings concise and engaging. Screencast-O-Matic has an easy-to-use video editor built into the screen recorder. This intuitive software makes it seamless to cut and trim your PD recordings, automatically remove pauses and silences, add text and overlays, and add additional narration and background music to make your instructional videos fun to watch.
3. Make it interactive
One of the downsides to online PD videos is the lack of interaction. Especially for recorded sessions, it can be challenging to assess if teachers are engaging with the content and absorbing the information.
The best way to solve that – add interactive elements.
With software like Screencast-O-Matic, you can easily embed interactive quizzes, ratings, and polls to any PD video to break up the sessions and make sure your fellow educators are getting the most out of it.
For example, you could ask teachers what they hope to learn at the beginning of your video and then capture feedback at the end to understand how effective the session was for them. You could add quick, fun polls at the beginning of each section of your PD video to keep teachers engaged and excited. Or you could add quiz questions along the way to assess how well teachers comprehend the content.
You can then view individual and summary results, including audience engagement heatmaps, to understand how teachers are engaging with your PD so that you can optimize your content and make your PD more effective.
4. Make it public
You’d be surprised how many educators spend hours creating a FANTASTIC resource to help support teachers.
And then only share that resource via email or keep it private. After spending so much time on a great professional development course, why not share it with the broader education community to support teachers beyond your school or district?
You can upload your professional development videos to YouTube as well as host and share them on an ad-free video hosting platform like Screencast-O-Matic. One benefit of using an alternative to YouTube like Screencast-O-Matic is that you can control the viewing experience so that teachers won’t be distracted by ads or sent to another channel after watching your PD video.
Of course, there are situations where you’ll want to control who can watch your videos. For example, you may want to host a video privately if your videos contain confidential information or if you’re thinking about creating a paid program. With Screencast-O-Matic’s secure video hosting, you can share unlisted videos, password-protect your content, or make videos visible only to members of your team account.
But otherwise – consider making your professional development content publicly accessible to benefit all teachers!
5. Make it ongoing
We’ve noted above how vital the continuing aspect of professional development is for teachers. Educational technology gives educators and instructional designers the tools they need to both create ongoing professional development courses as well as assess and optimize that content over time.
And when teachers take their learnings from PD sessions and implement them in the classroom, they can use the same technology to assess the effectiveness of their new strategies and practices.
For example, you might create a professional development video series on new instructional strategies. Your teachers can then use an easy video quizzing tool like Screencast-O-Matic to assess their students’ progress with the strategies they’ve implemented. Teachers can also use video quizzes to incorporate formative assessment into their lessons for ongoing feedback to improve their instruction and decision-making.
So take full advantage of the edtech tools at your fingertips to ensure that your professional development creation, implementation, and assessment are ongoing and effective!
Let’s keep growing
As educators, we embrace the idea of lifelong learning. We hope that our students will continue to grow, even as they age out of the classroom.
And that same ideal should apply to teachers. Effective professional development helps teachers keep growing as educators and be prepared to adapt to an ever-changing world.
Luckily, educational technology makes it easier than ever to develop engaging training programs. With easy-to-use edtech software like Screencast-o-Matic, you can record, edit, organize, and share interactive, engaging, and effective professional development for teachers. Get started for free today!