Why Is Teacher Professional Development Important?

7 amazing online resources and tips to make the most of your professional development experience

There are many types of professional development for teachers. However, especially in the current era of social distancing, online resources are one of the safest and best ways to complete professional development.

In fact, in this new reality, up to 69% of schools are planning to spend more money on technologies that enable remote learning and 43% are planning to spend money on professional development. This suggests that both teachers and students will need to make use of online resources more than usual in the upcoming school year.

In this article, you’ll discover why it’s important to seek out professional development in math, some of the top online resources that are available, and how to make the most of your professional development experience.

Why Is Teacher Professional Development Important?

Research and best practices in teaching are constantly changing as we learn more and more about how children learn best. So, updating teacher knowledge can make a big difference in outcomes in the classroom.

Specifically, studies have shown that professional development focusing on mathematics can have a positive effect on student achievement. In other words, teachers who learn more about teaching math are better teachers and their students do better on tests.

Top 5 Online Professional Development Resources for Math Teachers

To help you continue to grow as a professional, we’ve put together some excellent online professional development resources for teachers, focused specifically on math:

1. National Council of Teachers of Math
NCTM offers various professional development resources for math teachers. For example, the Principles to Action Toolkit offers various courses and sessions to help teachers learn the best math teaching practices. Each session features a case study and a lesson. Sessions are available for all grade levels. In addition, the NCTM has put together written guides to address topics such as technology, mathematical representations, and more. These resources are only available to NCTM members.

2. University of Chicago
For those who use the Everyday Mathematics curriculum, UChicago STEM Education has created an accompanying professional development resource. You can register as a free member to access this exceptional curriculum both for new teachers and more experienced educators. In addition, the resource guides teachers through planning, classroom coaching, pacing, and specific concerns such as working with ELL students. Some of the resources available include videos, written content, and forums where teachers can discuss their progress, concerns, questions, and achievements.

3. DREME TE – from Stanford
Especially relevant to preschool and kindergarten teachers, this resource provides modules that help teachers work with children effectively on concepts such as number sense, geometry, patterns and algebraic thinking, measurement, the four operations, and more! The modules include both video and written content, including interactions with kids.

4. EdWeek
Helpful webinars are published regularly on EdWeek. Both live and past sessions are available for viewing. In some districts, attending one of these live webinars may count toward your required professional development hours. Webinars touch on themes from engaging students to differentiated learning, common core, teaching kids to talk about math, and more. These webinars free for those who are registered members (also free) of EdWeek.

5. PBS Teacherline
PBS has put together a variety of professional development courses for teachers addressing most curriculum areas including math. These robust courses include up to 30 or more hours of professional development time. In some courses, you will be expected to implement lessons with your students so that you can put some of what you’ve learned into practice right away! Do note that these courses are paid.

Tips for Making the Most of Professional Development for Teachers

Want to make the most of any of these resources? There are a few ways you can maximize the professional development you decide to invest your time in. Here are a few ideas:

Implement it Right Away
Did you learn a new teaching strategy? Or perhaps you watched a model lesson that you’d love to try to repeat? Try it right away. Don’t let what you learned in professional development get stale. You’ll remember the details and techniques best if you put them into practice right away. Practicing will strengthen your understanding and memory of the materials you learned as well. So, the sooner you can implement what you’ve learned, the better!
Do it with a Colleague
Research has shown that professional development that is collaborative and involves dialogues is more effective than other methods. So, if you are able to group up with a colleague and do the same online professional development webinar or course, you can spend some time talking about it.

Plus, by working together, you’ll have the option to give each other feedback on your lessons, plans, or the other new strategies you learned. Giving and receiving feedback are other proven methods of professional development that will help you grow even more as an educator.

Are you ready to get started? Professional development is an effective way to improve your skills and boost student achievement in your classroom. We wish you the best as you continue your journey as a fantastic math educator!