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Professional Development Resources for Teachers

February 18, 2021

Teachers need support as they design new models of learning to keep up with the increasingly complex and rapidly changing needs of students. Whether integrating technology into the classroom, adapting to blended and online learning environments, or using data to drive lesson planning, teachers benefit from courses designed to expand their skills and guide them through implementing updated best practices.

Research has consistently shown that quality teachers play a significant role in student achievement, with studies estimating that teachers affect student performance two to three times more than any other school factor. Such compelling numbers highlight the importance of investing time and energy in professional development for teachers. Meaningful training offers teachers critical benefits that can help them manage challenges throughout their careers.

Today’s teachers face an onslaught of changes to school district, state, and federal guidelines and standards; evolving educational technology; and developing research about the most effective teaching methods. Professional development in the form of podcasts, books, online courses, and professional development networks can boost teachers’ confidence and ability to energize their classrooms with new expertise.

Professional Development Podcasts for Teachers

Teachers looking to broaden their subject matter knowledge, pick up tips on instructional practice, or learn new ways to enliven their classrooms have a number of podcasts to choose from. Today’s podcasts offer practical advice from expert educators on every subject and for every grade level. This readily accessible learning medium allows teachers to grow professionally wherever they are. Whether doing laundry or driving home from work, teachers can take advantage of podcasts to build their teaching toolkits.

The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast

Each episode strives to empower the listener with a valuable takeaway about classroom management, teaching strategies, education reform, or educational technology. The podcast host interviews educators, students, administrators, and parents to explore the psychological and social inner workings of schools and discover the tricks of the trade. Listeners can easily sort through podcast categories, including:

  • Learning Theory
  • Technology
  • Working Together
  • Book Reviews

House of #EdTech

House of #EdTech focuses on the role of technology in education today and how it’s changing the way teachers teach. The podcast host talks with teachers and education leaders to discover the impact of technology on student learning. Discussions offer tools and tips, as well as resources, for integrating technology effectively into the classroom. For example, episodes have covered the following topics:

  • Using educational technology to support project-based learning
  • How to teach virtually

Google Teacher Podcast

Google Teacher Podcast equips teachers using Google Classroom with valuable hacks and tips. Listeners learn about how to make the most out of Google programs such as Google Docs, Forms, and Slides. It also aims to give teachers practical resources and tools for easier technology integration. Episodes have covered:

  • Supporting students to construct internal project hubs, team sites, and websites using Google Sites
  • Using Google tools to connect with students

Truth for Teachers

This popular podcast for grades K-12 comes from educator Angela Watson, whose professional development focuses on encouraging teachers to become more intentional with their time and to shed unhelpful and outdated teaching practices. Each week, Watson shares messages of encouragement and inspiration. Her podcast addresses everything from mindfulness apps that help teachers manage self-care to discussions about teacher beliefs that can limit student success. Episodes include:

  • “How to Be Quietly Subversive and Make the Standards Meaningful With Dr. Robyn Jackson”
  • “The Best Ideas From the Distance Learning Playbook by Fisher & Frey”

Ten Minute Teacher Podcast

For educators looking for a daily dose of educator wisdom, Ten Minute Teacher offers concise episodes discussing a range of education topics with knowledgeable educators. Each day of the week is devoted to a different theme:

  • Motivational Mondays, starting the week with some inspiration
  • EdTech Tool Tuesdays, introducing helpful ed-tech tools
  • Wonderful Classroom Wednesdays, presenting exciting things teachers are doing
  • Thought Leader Thursdays, offering conversations with top education researchers and authors
  • 5-Idea Fridays, presenting five practical ideas teachers can use

Teachers Need Teachers

New teachers need special support. Teachers Need Teachers aims to serve that need with critical tips and guidance on everything from lesson planning to surviving teacher overwhelm. The podcast host converses with educators to explore topics such as the unique struggles of special education teachers and how to avoid new teacher burnout. Episodes include:

  • “Actionable Strategies for New Special Education Teachers”
  • “How to Create a Self-Running Classroom Using a Classroom Economy”

National Public Radio’s (NPR) Teaching Matters

Teaching Matters explores how students are changing and how teachers can keep up. The NPR podcast features educators who talk about their experiences and give tips on managing the classroom. Episodes explore a range of topics, such as how mobile smart technology can serve as both a distraction and a powerful learning tool, as well as how to address unconscious bias in schools and make needed changes.

Lab Out Loud

Sponsored by the National Science Teachers Association, Lab Out Loud targets new and veteran science teachers, offering a plethora of resources, how-to advice, and interesting conversations about the latest in science. The two science teacher hosts converse with educators, researchers, top scientists, and science thinkers devoted to innovation in science teaching. Episodes include:

  • “Connect Students to NASA’s #LaunchAmerica With Online Resources and Activities”
  • “Discovery vs. Exploration: Learning Science With Evidence-Based Argumentation”

Art Ed Radio

Art Ed Radio dives into topics relevant to art education through discussions with art teachers and thinkers. The podcast explores creativity, technology, different art media, and student engagement. Listeners can expect to learn about new ideas for making art outdoors, where to find professional development opportunities, and strategies for setting up online classrooms. Episodes include:

  • “Teaching 3D From a Distance”
  • “Using Art to Help Out Community”

Teaching Math Teaching Podcast

Math teachers looking for insights and advice to sharpen their craft can turn to this podcast. Sponsored by the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators, Teaching Math Teaching offers teaching strategies and tools for engaging students.

Episodes discuss subjects such as collaborative learning, provide technology tutorials, and offer sample assignments for teaching during COVID-19. Additionally, listeners can expect to learn about professional networks and STEM resources. Episodes include:

  • “High School Mathematics Lessons to Explore, Understand, and Respond to Social Injustice”
  • “Community Building, Collaborative Learning, and Resilient Teaching”

Professional Development Books for Teachers

Books can be invaluable tools when it comes to growing as a teacher. They introduce new ways to approach old challenges, guide educators toward greater innovation, deliver much-needed insight about social issues, present vital research, and more.

How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms, by Carol Ann Tomlinson

This book serves as a guide to implementing differentiated instruction in the classroom to account for the different ways and paces students learn in today’s diverse classrooms.

Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters, by Kylene Beers and Bob Probst

Disrupting Thinking explores why students often check out when they’re reading and offers methods to improve student reading engagement across subjects and grade levels.

Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor Among Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students, by Zaretta Hammond

The author shares ways to create culturally responsive classrooms that meet the needs of culturally diverse student populations. The practices she shares are the result of applying neuroscientific research to the concept of culturally responsive teaching.

Fostering Resilient Learners: Strategies for Creating a Trauma-Sensitive Classroom, by Kristin Souers with Pete Hall

This book explores ways to cultivate environments that are sensitive to trauma in light of mounting evidence that shows the huge impact trauma can have on students’ ability to learn and their social-emotional and physical health.

Better Than Carrots or Sticks: Restorative Practices for Positive Classroom Management, by Dominique Smith, Douglas Fisher, and Nancy Frey

Restorative classroom management is based on research showing effective classroom management teaches students how to recognize and correct their own behavior. This book challenges positive/negative reinforcement models and explores the benefits of restorative practices.

Happy Teachers Change the World: A Guide for Cultivating Mindfulness in Education, by Thich Nhat Hanh and Katherine Weare

This book shares basic mindfulness practices and applies them to the classroom. It guides readers on how to use the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh to foster their own creativity as educators and how to pass that on to students.

Teaching With the Brain in Mind, Revised 2nd Edition, by Eric Jensen

The author explores ways to prepare the brain for school and learning, discussing the various brain systems and how they affect learning. The book also guides readers in ways to tap into the brain’s natural reward system and how to use brain research to guide the development of curricula and assessment.

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education, by Christopher Emdin

An award-winning teacher shares his story of growing up as a boy of color and feeling invisible in school. He then offers a practical guide about how to teach in urban schools.

An Urgency of Teachers: The Work of Critical Digital Pedagogy, by Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris

Through a collection of essays, the book critically explores educational technology, online learning, and ways to teach digitally. It also offers strategies and principles for teaching in an online world.

Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator, by Dave Burgess

Employing a motivational tone, the author offers ideas to engage and excite students about learning. He discusses ways to cultivate camaraderie among students, heighten teacher passion, and build a transformative experience for students in the classroom.

Webinars and Online Professional Development for Teachers

Online learning opportunities abound for teachers looking to develop networks with other teachers, earn professional development credit hours, and expand their knowledge in everything from teaching tolerance to bringing Shakespeare to life in the classroom. Webinars, online courses, virtual conferences, and other forms of online professional development serve as great support tools, giving educators access to top-notch instructional materials and training.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Dedicated to K-12 American history education, the institute hosts many professional development programs designed to build literacy. In addition to a wealth of instructional materials on its website, the institute offers self-paced graduate-level American history e-learning courses taught by renowned scholars, as well as online courses. Teachers can also participate in the institute’s Teaching Literacy Through History program, which focuses on how to use primary sources as teaching tools.

Teaching Tolerance

A project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Teaching Tolerance provides free resources focused on teaching social justice and anti-bias to K-12 educators. The materials aim to help teachers create inclusive communities in which all students feel valued and respected. Professional development for teachers includes workshops, in-person training, and facilitator guides that offer protocols, worksheets, presenter slides, and other materials.

Additionally, Teaching Tolerance provides self-guided learning modules, webinars, and podcasts that explore school climate, instruction, classroom culture, family and community engagement, and teacher leadership as they relate to tolerance issues.

National Geographic Educator Network

National Geographic facilitates a network that connects teachers and classrooms so they can share ideas and resources. The network delivers online and fact-to-face local and national opportunities in which teachers gain access to free and at-cost educational resources. For K-12 educators, the site also offers online courses, grant opportunities, and the Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship, which involves a trip of global exploration that promotes conservation.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)

NCTM provides quality professional development for math teachers, with a focus on teaching resources that offer guidance on putting college- and career-readiness standards in place. Beyond hosting in-person conferences, the organization has webinars, professional development guides, and other resources. The Principles to Action Toolkit, for example, provides modules on effective teaching practices and addresses:

  • How to ensure success in math for all
  • Access and equity
  • Curriculum
  • Tools and technology
  • Assessment
  • Professionalism

National Science Teaching Association

This organization offers professional development for science teachers. Science teachers can take advantage of distance learning, webinars, and virtual conferences to learn about research-based methods for effective K-postsecondary science teaching. Learning opportunities address:

  • Best practices in classroom science teaching and learning
  • Ways to build content knowledge and skills in science pedagogy
  • Methods for developing professional learning communities
  • Distance-learning strategies for teaching science

The Smithsonian Science Education Center

The Smithsonian has many professional development opportunities for science teachers. First, the animated series Good Thinking! The Science of Teaching Science is designed to help K-12 science teachers explore their students’ ideas and misconceptions about science subjects such as natural selection or learn more about pedagogical issues such as student motivation.

Additionally, the center has a summer course that gives teachers the chance to learn about such topics as biodiversity, space science, and energy innovations by exploring Smithsonian museums and other world-class research facilities.

SHAPE America

The Society of Health and Physical Educators America offers professional learning opportunities to health and physical education teachers. They include online options such as free webinars and online courses covering topics such as best practices for teaching physical education virtually or in hybrid learning situations. Additionally, the organization features interviews that give teaching tips and resources from award-winning teachers.

National Association for Music Education (NAfME)

Music educators looking for ways to enrich their classrooms and learn new techniques in assessment and curriculum development can turn to NAfME. The organization sponsors an academy that offers webinars for music educators covering music pedagogy for:

  • Band
  • Strings
  • Choral
  • Performing ensembles
  • General music

Additionally, NAfME hosts webinars addressing career development and inclusion in the music classroom.

Folger Shakespeare Library

The Folger Shakespeare Library offers both free and paid professional development for language arts teachers. Opportunities include livestreamed webinars and workshops that allow for real-time interaction. Teachers can also access webinars on demand. Learning experiences focus on teaching Shakespearean plays and literature in exciting ways that engage students. Teachers learn from Folger experts, scholars, artists, and a community of educators who care about literature.

Finding Professional Development Resources for Teachers

Whether fulfilling requirements to maintain a teaching license or seeking out solutions to challenges in the classroom, teachers rely on quality professional learning opportunities. Fortunately, professional development for teachers is easily accessible and readily available. In addition to the resources above, teachers can find numerous other ways to cultivate their expertise by conducting quick internet searches for teacher organizations and cultural, historical, and artistic institutions, all of which often sponsor professional development resources for teachers.