Top 8 Professional Development Topics for Teachers
For educators, professional development (PD) can mean earning a higher salary, moving into administrative positions or even teaching a new subject entirely. And with so many PD topics available, it can be hard to know which courses are worth your while. To help you choose and give you a leg up in your career, here are the top 8 professional development topics for teachers.
Top 8 Teacher Professional Development Topics
1. Curriculum Design: Curriculum design “involves planning activities, readings, lessons, and assessments that achieve educational goals,” and is one of the most critical components of an educator’s job. Improving your curriculum design skills can help you better shape lessons to deliver effective learning outcomes and meet and exceed standards.
USD Recommended Course: Action Planning for Classroom Improvements
2. Restorative Justice: Restorative justice is a cutting-edge alternative to traditional disciplinary practices in schools; it empowers students to resolve conflicts on their own and in small groups based on set community standards of behavior. Many schools are finding great success in moving to restorative justice, but many don’t have educators or administrators with a background in the subject, making restorative justice a popular professional development topic. And, one that would prove very beneficial for your school and your career.
USD Recommend Course: Introduction to Restorative Justice: A Global Social Movement
3. Character Building & Education: The U.S. Department of Education defines character education as “a learning process that enables students and adults in a school community to understand, care about and act on core ethical values such as respect, justice, civic virtue and citizenship, and responsibility for self and others.” And in today’s cultural climate, developing good citizens has never been more important. Many teachers are looking for ways to integrate character building lessons into their course curriculum, and taking a professional development course on the topic can be a great place to start.
USD Recommended Course: Teaching Positive Social Skills to Students
4. Stress Management & Mindfulness: Both doctors and clinical psychologists are advocating for parents and teachers to be more proactive when it comes to stress management. It’s been shown that stress, anxiety and depression negatively affect cognitive function, thereby decreasing a student's ability to learn and flourish in the classroom. To learn how to better recognize signs of distress and implement some stress management and mindfulness strategies in your class, consider pursuing educator professional development on this topic.
USD Recommended Course: Introduction to the Mindful Classroom - The Art & Science of Well-being for Staff and Students
5. Google Classroom: Google Classroom is a suite of online tools that allows teachers to set assignments, have work submitted by students, mark and return graded papers and essentially manage most classroom functions. And in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in remote learning, the need for effective digital learning environments has never been greater. Google Classroom is one of the more popular options amongst teachers and students alike. By learning how to maximize the tools and features of Google Classroom, you can leverage the latest technologies in your classroom — both physically and virtually.
USD Recommended Course: Google Tools for Collaborative Teaching
6. Teacher Wellness & Mental Health: The American Federation of Teachers’ 2017 Educator Quality of Work Life Survey found that 61% of teachers said their jobs were always or often stressful, and 58% said they had poor mental health due to that stress. And since those surveys were conducted, our education system has faced an ongoing crisis due to the global pandemic and a shortage of teachers. It cannot be emphasized enough that teacher wellness and mental health need to be top priorities for school systems and educators themselves, making mental health professional development courses both necessary and popular. And improved teacher mental health has been shown to improve stability and health for the whole school community.
USD Recommended Course: Banish Burnout - Educator's Guide to Stopping Burnout Before It Stops You!
7. Equity & Anti-Racism: According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, anti-racist education is a theory of learning and action that “explicitly highlights, critiques, and challenges institutional racism,” with the goal of eliminating racism in schools. One of the best ways to eliminate racism is to be actively anti-racist, and you can do that through curriclum updates, school initiatives and in how you interact with and develop relationships with minority students. The good news is that there are professional development courses for teachers that will teach you how to be more effective in these pursuits by giving you the tools to promote equity and anti-racism.
USD Recommended Course: Teaching for Joy and Equity in the K-12 Classroom
8. Remote Teaching: You are undoubtedly familiar with remote teaching, and depending where you work, you may still be doing some level of remote instruction. While many teachers have had to learn on the fly, there are now more developed PD courses about remote teaching. These courses are designed to help educators make the most of remote teaching technology, two-way communication tools and implementing strategies that ensure student success.
USD Recommended Course: Remote Teaching and Social Emotional Learning: Engagement with Technology
Teacher Professional Development Resources
Teacher PD Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is professional development for teachers?
A: Professional development for teachers is loosely defined as “ongoing learning opportunities available to teachers and other education personnel through their schools and districts.” For most educators, ongoing professional development is required every number of years and to maintain licensure. The good news is that professional development courses can also help move educators up in the pay scale or into new, high-level positions.
Q: Why is teacher professional development important?
A: Teacher professional development is helpful for a number of reasons, but most importantly it:
Ensures educators are refreshing their knowledge about subjects
Introduces teachers to new and emerging topics
Helps educators implement new strategies in their courses
Help educators to further their education and earn a higher salary
Q: What are my options as an educator for professional development?
A: The requirements for teacher PD will vary from district to district, but most schools require teachers to take education courses from an accredited institution. These courses can be done online, in person or sometimes in a hybrid learning environment that ensures teachers can fit learning into their already busy schedules.