How to Get Professional Development Points While Working Remotely

Misty Hance
Misty Hance
Assistant elementary school principal; Ed.D. in School Leadership, Carson-Newman University, TN

In order to keep one’s educational license current and renewable, educators must accrue Professional Development Points known as PDPs. In response to COVID-19 and the need to work remotely, educators are searching for safe alternatives to traditional workshops and in-person coursework. Fortunately, there are several options available, and with extra time due to safer-at-home practices, now is a great time to work toward completing the necessary hours.

Present at or Attend a Virtual Conference or Workshop

In an effort to continue to provide access to previously developed educational conferences and workshops, many organizations are offering virtual options. Local districts may offer specific options for their educators that meet their strategic plan. Online conferences or webinars cover a multitude of topics and grade-specific strategies. A current topic for online conferences is how to adjust to online learning and how to maintain high expectations while teaching virtually.

As some may be in transition to this new mode of operation, presenters will be needed. Teachers who have an in-depth knowledge of best practice may be able to share their knowledge as a presenter and earn PDPs as well.

Create a Professional Development Page

As more educators are looking for online options to grow professionally and gain new knowledge, the need for a social media page devoted to sharing these options is increasing. Teachers could earn PDPs for creating and maintaining a social media page which keeps other educators updated on professional development options including conferences, workshops, and instructional videos on new instructional strategies, interactive activities, and various subjects. Just make sure your page stays current, provides live links to the various options, and denotes the cost and length of time for each.

Hosting virtual collaboration for Professional Learning Communities is another way to use social media sites to share instructional ideas and strategies. Web conferencing sites such as Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Teams allows multiple educators to meet, share lesson plans and files, and demonstrate how to effectively use websites and virtual field trips to connect with students and enhance learning. Just remember, as the host, it is your responsibility to keep the conversation focused on the educational topic.

Obtain an Educational Technology Certification

Integrating technology with traditional classroom instruction is a growing trend, especially as the nation continues to look for options that include online learning. A certificate in educational technology prepares a teacher to work with students using digital tools to analyze information and solve problems. A similar graduate certificate that would be very applicable in the nation’s current condition is online teaching and learning. This program explores ways to teach new skills through rigorous online instruction and activities. Either of these certificates would be extremely advantageous in blending learning environments while earning PDPs.

Enroll in Continuing Education Classes or Programs

Due to current trends, many universities are offering online courses and this is a great way both stay abreast of current educational trends and accumulate PDPs. In addition, with the courses you take, you might be able to add an endorsement to your license such as Reading Specialist, Math or Science Education, or English as a Second Language.

Write an Article, Op-Ed, or Book

If writing is a passion, Professional Development Points could be earned through credited authored written works. Formal academic writing can vary in length and style. A few options include:

  • Op-Ed – A short, usually under 800 words, newspaper column providing one’s knowledge and focused opinion on an educational issue or trend.
  • Article – Based on research, a journal article can cover any number of educational topics. The length of most articles ranges from one to three pages.
  • Book – A more lengthy endeavor, a book could be written based on an educational development or field research.

Online Educational Videos and Podcasts

Some state departments offer a variety of online videos covering topics from state standard implementation and subject-specific instructional strategies to effective classroom management strategies and school safety. Typically lasting 60 to 90 minutes, these may be a good resource for teachers, as well as a means of collecting points.

Enhance Your Overall Effectiveness Rating

Many states provide a graduated credit scale for teacher’s overall effectiveness on evaluations and assessment performance. While you are working remotely, it is a great time to focus on creating enhanced lesson plans and developing activities and essential questions that could boost these scores in future evaluations. Choosing webinars that address the means to improving lesson plans and instruction would not only provide PDPs, but also increase your knowledge and understanding of providing rigorous lessons, which in turn would enhance your overall effectiveness rating, adding even more PDPs to your account.

Effective professional development for teachers is used to enhance content knowledge, provide new strategies for active learning, and support collaboration. Some states will allow credit for learning activities for which you also receive a stipend or other form of compensation, while others may not. As with any PDP activity, verify that the one you choose is an acceptable option by visiting your state’s educational website. Each state may differ in how they award PDP credits, but typically it is based on hours of attendance or scores accredited. You will also be responsible for submitting the appropriate certificate, transcript, or documentation. No matter what option you chose, this is a great time to work on enhancing your educator effectiveness and fulfill your state’s PDP requirements.

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