Top 10 Ways to Engage in Professional Development

Not so long ago, professional development for teachers meant a one of excursion to an off-site location. Teachers were the passive recipients of professional development.

Times have changed.

A teacher no longer has to be the expert in the classroom and a teacher no longer needs an expert  to develop their skills.

Professional development for teachers can now be a self-motivated, anywhere, anytime event.

Change in education systems can be slow but the change from being a passive consumer of professional development to being an active seeker could determine how well teachers and students can perform at their best in a 21st century classroom.

My own personal professional development happens at any time of the day or night on any day of the week. The amount I learn each day often astounds me and exhausts me!

It is true that the more you know, the more you realise you don’t know!

Here are my top 10 ways to engage in Professional Development

1. Twitter - create a professional learning network (PLN) with other teachers. Share ideas. Give and receive advice. Find out more here.

2. Read blogs by educators. Use Google Reader to subscribe to blogs of interest. Find out more about keeping track of educational blogs here.

3. Subscribe to my Tech Tools for Teachers Newsletter!

4. Listen to podcasts. I like the Ed Tech Crew, EdPod and The Virtual Staffroom. You can find all of these in iTunes.

5. Talk to like minded teachers at your school or teachers around the world via Skype. Skype in Education is a great place to start.

6. Join a wiki or a Ning. Try English Companion for a great Ning for English teachers.

7. Watch a video on a topic you’re interested in. Try YouTube or TES Videos for Teachers.

8. Engage in webinars. Have you seen the Victorian Educators’ Guide to Innovation Ning for weekly PD via Elluminate? Classroom 2.0 is also an excellent place for personlised PD at your fingertips.

9. Write a blog – there is nothing like self-reflective writing to help you learn.

10. Lurk, explore search the web. Don’t be afraid!


    “If our teachers are still learning in traditional ways, they will continue to teach in traditional ways” Jeff Utecht

    Are you a true lifelong learner?

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    Image: 'Sarah laboring under the misconception...'"

    Leave a comment. How do you learn?

    21 thoughts on “Top 10 Ways to Engage in Professional Development

    1. A great list – I can attest to the benefit of many items. I love being able to hand pick the PD that suits me – I love twitter and reading blogs and On-line conferences

      You could add – subscribe to newsletters like Tech Tools – thanks

    2. Hi kathleen,

      I loved this post. I read your blog and others on a regular basis and have learnt a lot from reading about what others do. I hope my Principal acknowledges these activities as Professional Development and lets me use the hours I have spent reading towards my 37.5 hours of professional development that we have to do in South Australia.


      • @ Angie, what a good point. It’s hard to document this sort of “PD in your PJs” that many of us do – if we did add it all up I’m sure it would MUCH much more than 37.5 hours! Thanks for your support :)

    3. Hi Kathleen
      I can’t believe how much I have been ‘lurking’ and exploring since beginning my PLN. I love both of your blogs and visit often. I agree with Celia that your Tech Tools newsletters are great and I have shared these with the rest of the staff at my school. There is so much out their and it’s great to be able to pick and choose what is most relevant to me and the children I teach. A great list.

    4. Hi Kathleen

      I’ve noticed that over the past 18 months that most of my PD is now online and directly related to my needs and interests – I have learnt so much from reading other people’s blogs, following people on Twitter, listening to podcasts and …and SO much of it in my PJs!!!! (I wonder what the result would be if we did a random survey on Twitter one night to ask who was wearing their PJs???)

      My next goal is to attend an Elluminate session that’s not on when I’m at school.

      Thanks for your fabulous newsletters….

      Kim :)

      • @ Kim, I love the idea of the doing the Twitter survey! If you do it, be sure to let me know how it goes! I want to get to more Ellluminate sessions too. I think as opposed to other lurking on blogs or Twitter, these are harder to commit to because of the set time however they’re a terrific initiative to get groups of like-minded teachers together and don’t forget most of them are recorded if you miss them. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

    5. Fantastic list! There are so many ways to learn these days. For me, I feel lucky to have access to so many people and resources. I’m like Kim, “most of my PD is now online and directly related to my needs and interests.”

      I still see a culture of top-down, traditional PD in my district. It seems as though the teachers are used to/comfortable with that process and many wait to be directed to PD. I will forward your post to my principal and maybe she’ll talk about this type of PD at a staff meeting!

      Thanks again!
      ~Linda Yollis

      • @ Linda, I agree, the real perk of this sort of learning is that you can tailor it exactly to meet your needs and your students’ needs – unlike traditional PD where the presenter decides what you learn!

        The same culture that you see in your district is evident here on the other side of the globe! Good idea talking to your principal – I think there are many teachers out there who just don’t realise what is available to them or how to access it.

        Thanks for a great comment!

    6. Kathleen,
      I read your top 10 ways to engage in PD during the week and can’t agree more with you. I would love to share your comments with our staff and of course post it on my Sharing Spot blog. Taking Edna’s top 10 concept, you have written a post that should put a more positive spin on PD. I love the quote by Jeff Utecht. We should all be live long learners and your post promotes self tailoring PD to our needs and interest. Hope you have a great Fathers Day as we in the USA celebrate Labor Day.

      • @ Rich, I really hope this post and the work of other educators such as yourself help more teachers to become true life long learners. It’s a term that is often thrown around loosely but doesn’t occur as much as it could (yet).
        Happy Labor Day to you!

    7. Hi Kathleen
      With the help of your blog (and a few other valuable blogs) I am learning as you suggest while I have time on my hands for the first time in 5 years. I have very limited access to traditional Employer sponsored PD but need to stay current now more than ever.
      Do you know of anyones blog/advice on possible order in which to approach my self-directed learning. At the moment I am learning so much my head is spinning (much like you observed of your own learning) however it also seems very piecemeal and while much of it has been quite serendipitous I worry that I will have gaps that I don’t even realise I need to fill.
      I look forward to learning something new every night now that I have discovered google reader and some quality blogs.
      Keep it coming.

      • @ Adrienne, what sort of work are you doing at the moment? It sounds interesting!
        It’s hard to say in what order to approach your learning and it depends what you are most interested in learning about. I’m not sure if you’re on Twitter but if you are or if you want to get on I could “introduce” you to some great educators who always help with my own “PD”.
        I think the more you know, the more you realise you don’t know. I am finding this all the time! So don’t worry about the gaps and just keep doing what you’re doing. All the pieces will start to fall into place!

    8. I love Blogs, and the Online conference setting. However there is nothing like attending and being inspired and chatting over a coffee with the like minded.
      These incidental chats and follow up searching using and trials are the best form of Professional learning.

      I’m not yet into twitter although I do have an acct, I just don’t get it!

      • @ Stephen, nice to hear from you.

        I know what you mean about talking with people face to face however if teachers limit themselves to these sorts of interactions, they’re really missing out. Some of my best teaching ideas have come from collaborating with teachers on the other side of the world (Linda Yollis, for example). I wouldn’t be the teacher I am today if I just relied on face-to-face chats.

        I’d really encourage you to give Twitter ago. When I joined I had no idea what it was all about but through advice from various people it all slowly came together. I encourage people to get on Twitter every day for a month or so before you give it up. I love Twitter now and I just learn so much from it. I know there are some keen tweeters at your school and I bet they’d be more than happy to show you the ropes too!

        Good luck! :)

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