If you Google “online professional development courses for teachers” or any of a number of variations, you get so many responses that it can be overwhelming. How do you sort through them? How do you choose one website or another, one school or another, one program or another, from the hundreds that are listed? Do you start with a field of study? A location? A number of credits? A ranking? Financial considerations? All these factors are important. But the deciding factor should be what YOU need. In your classroom, what are your strengths and weaknesses? Do your technology skills need development? How about your classroom management strategies? Is there a subject you’d like to be better at teaching, such as STEM? Or are you more interested in creating motivation, teaching social skills, or establishing a positive, inclusive, learning experience?
How to choose between online courses for educatorsFirst, don’t let the choices overwhelm you. Here are a few tips for sorting through the options and narrowing them down:
- Write down your top classroom needs and interests at this point in time.
- Rank themaccording to which courses would benefit you most right now.
- Compare the topics that you’ve ranked. Does one speak to you more than the others?
- Search for online teacher professional development courses online in the topic you’ve chosen. Make sure the organizations involved are accredited.
- Factor in your schedule. How many credits do you need? Online courses typically range between one and six credits, and the higher-credit courses will require the most work. Find a balance between the credits you want to earn and the time you have in your life.
- Check out cost. Do your most-desired courses fit your budget?
- Make your decision.There will always be too many choices. Remember, you’re prioritizing what speaks to you most at this point in time. You’ll be more engaged in the work and more excited to bring your new skills to the classroom.
What are some 3-credit courses for teachers online?Professional development courses come in a variety of forms: workshops, seminars, university courses, and online courses. The hours of credit you earn go toward both fulfilling your CE requirements and also enhancing your performance in the classroom. Here are a few examples of specific three-credit courses for teachers online:
- Improve your classroom-technology skills: Are you meeting the needs of your digital learners? Creating and Maintaining the Technology-Infused Classroom is a three--credit course offered by EDS that will familiarize you with all forms of technology-based teaching and learning tools, including apps and online resources. You will learn to weave technology throughout your curriculum, all of which supports Common Core (CC) and International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards.
- Focus on STEM/STEAM learning opportunities: STEM has been a priority in schools for several years, but the more recently adopted STEAM (which adds an A for Arts to the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math initials in STEM) is being integrated in teaching. That A for Arts represents creativity and innovation in tasks that require the other skills: An architect uses plenty of STEM skills, for example, but it is the A that takes her building design from ordinary to extraordinary. STEM/STEAM in the Primary Classroom is a three-credit EDS course that helps you understand, explore, and develop plans for implementation in your own classroom on a daily and weekly basis.
- Help develop your primary students’ executive-function skills: Executive-function skills have been compared to the conductor of an orchestra or the air-traffic controller at an airport – they are the skills that mean we can focus, plan, prioritize, keep track of multiple things at the same time, tune out distractions, and practice impulse control. Developing Executive-Function Skills in the Primary Classroom (worth three credits) helps you learn more about these skills, explore ways in which you can support their development in your students, and develop a plan that encourages this in your classroom.
- Develop new classroom management strategies: Do your students have a growth mindset? Do you? Developing a Growth Mindset in the Primary Classroom is a three-credit course that helps you teach your students to apply themselves, tackle problems, and believe they can achieve great things due to their innate talents and abilities. It focuses on the effort and the progress rather than simply the result, and it can help your students reach their full potential.
Creating a culturally inclusive classroomA group of students today can represent different races and ethnicities, religions, ages, gender identities, family structures, and learning challenges. Ensuring that all these students can learn means no student feels left out. EDS offers a three-course series called The Role of Culture & Equity in the Classroom:
- Yours, Mine, and Ours: Though not a requirement, this class does provide the foundation for the other two. All three use the book How to Teach Students Who Don’t Look Like You: Culturally Relevant Teaching Strategiesby Bonnie M. Davis. This course helps teachers understand their own culture and how that culture creates the lens through which you see others and the world. You will learn how to recognize stereotypes and discrimination, how to start understanding another person’s culture, and how to teach your students to do the same. (Two credits.)
- Creating an Inclusive Classroom Environment: This course teaches understanding of the term “culturally responsive,” and learning what that term means in terms of creating an inclusive environment in the classroom. You will also study how to build relationships with students and their families from all cultures. (Two credits.)
- Creating Culturally Responsive Lesson Plans: This course builds on the knowledge of the previous two, and teaches you how to incorporate that knowledge into your lesson plans. You will learn how to identify culturally responsive class materials, and how to identify and write a culturally responsive lesson plan. (Two credits.)