One of the marks of a successful and healthy nation is a well-educated populace. Consistent with this, the federal government has created numerous structures and requirements over the years to establish a quality educational system. And, while our current public school system might have its faults, it’s hard to deny that it also has some fabulous components. Take for example the many high quality teachers that devote their entire careers to contributing to our youth. Those skilled and knowledgeable teachers often make the difference for students in their educational journeys.
To help ensure the delivery of equitable and quality education, every state in the United States requires K-12 teachers in public schools to be certified or licensed after they have earned a bachelor’s degree and completed or at least embarked upon a teacher preparation program[i]. For K-12 teachers, certification and licensure are generally available at three primary levels: the kindergarten through third grade level[ii]; the first through fifth grade or first through eighth grade level[iii]; and the seventh through twelfth grade level[iv]. Keep in mind that the specific type and level of certification teachers must obtain varies by state.
After teachers have earned their certificate or license, they must develop themselves professionally to maintain their certification or licensure. This professional development for teachers comes in many forms, and teachers often choose from a list of eligible courses set by states, districts, or schools. The process of ongoing recertification and professional development are two of the structures that help ensure the continuous improvement of our public education system.[v]
Most commonly, professional development courses are delivered through a school, nonprofit or governmental organization, or a private corporation. They’re often delivered in the form of traditional courses, workshops, seminars, or, increasingly, online courses and tutorials. Upon completion of professional development courses, teachers present evidence of completion to their schools and certifying bodies for credit. In addition, they often learn new techniques, theories, and philosophies that they can incorporate into their teaching.
It’s worth taking the time to discuss online and alternative options for professional development a bit further. As you know, teachers work incredibly hard. By the time they’ve taught for six to eight hours per day, worked with parents before and after school, and devoted their evenings and weekends to grading and preparing lessons, it can be a daunting if not impossible task to find and complete professional development courses. Thankfully, online education comes to the rescue. With increasing demand for online education and ever-improving technology, online professional development for teachers is becoming effective, efficient, and fun (maybe—we’ll let you decide!). For teaching professionals who devote an immense amount of time and energy to the job, flexible and easily accessible online programs can be an incredible gift.
Another popular and oftentimes necessary trend is for teachers to participate in alternative programs that allow them to earn their teacher’s license or certification while they’re teaching in the classroom. For teachers in such programs, courses for certification may count toward professional development. In addition, many certifying agencies and professional organizations in the field of teaching offer professional development courses specifically designed for certification renewal. Such courses are often designed with the working teacher in mind and enable teachers to complete professional development efficiently and effectively.
Ultimately, professional development for K-12 teachers, in whatever form it happens, is a critical component of creating and maintaining a healthy and vibrant educational system.
Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-4 | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/kindergarten-and-elementary-school-teachers.htm | [iii] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm#tab-4 | [iv] bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/high-school-teachers.htm#tab-4 | [v] teach.org/teaching-certification