You've earned your education degree, done your student teaching, completed the state required certifications, and found a job. Congratulations! You are about to embark on a lifetime of learning, because in order to be the best possible teacher you can be, you must always also remain a student.
One of the ways your district ensures their teachers continue to keep abreast of new instructional methods, teaching techniques, and curriculum choices in through continuing education. This can come in many forms. Some teachers just love to learn, and seek out opportunities to sign up for classes at the university or teacher college level that will increase their range of specialties. This is a smart move, because it allows such teachers greater content understanding as well as greater skills. Should they decide to pursue a specialty, they may be rewarded with a higher salary and greater degree of independence.
Other options include class or course offerings at teacher education organizations, teacher training centers, and the like. Some of these centers are part of a school district (or shared by two or more districts), and bring in outside specialists on a regular basis to make sure classroom teachers are aware of developments in technology, research, academics, behavioral models, special needs, and so forth.
Yet another option are teacher- led initiatives which involve professional development that has been designed by teachers who have identified a particular type of need. Often, the resulting workshops are offered within a building during professional development days.
If a district or building discovers an issue or problem that is widespread, this will often be addressed by bringing a recognized expert in to present a workshop or series of workshops. For example, a district that has experienced an increasingly dangerous degree of bullying might require all staff members attend one or more continuing education opportunities that addresses this issue.
All states are required to provide ongoing continuing education to teachers, and all teachers are required by their individual states to fulfill a certain number of hours or classes. Typically a renewal period of three to five years includes a set number of continuing professional education hours that must be completed in order to obtain a certification renewal. Some of the topics addressed might include content area understanding; professional ethics; standards of conduct; district objectives; new research results regarding how children learn; acceptable and effective methods of discipline; teaching across the curriculum; changes to state or federal laws governing educational policies; working with special needs; maintaining classroom diversity; encouraging parental involvement within the classroom and within the home; developing reading skills; increasing the use of technology within the classroom.
In some cases, teachers are free to choose which workshops or continuing education programs to attend. However, some content areas may require the participation of all staff members. In many cases, continuing certification is obtained only after teachers have completed the continuing education requirements and demonstrated their understanding through testing, observation or other assessments.
Last Updated: 06/08/2014