What Type of Continuing Education Courses Do Teachers Need to Take Throughout Their Career?

Teaching certificationsProfessional teacher development is an ongoing process where state educational agencies outline the types of continuing education courses teachers need to take to provide high quality instruction and maintain certification. State educational agencies expect teachers to complete coursework towards license renewal about every three to five years. During that time, teachers are expected to participate in meaningful professional development activities or classes that enhance their knowledge about educational trends and increase their expertise in specialized areas of education and leadership, according to Edutopia.

Federal and State Requirements for Continuing Teacher Education

Coursework for ongoing professional development follows guidelines set forth by each state’s department of education based in part on federal standards, according to the Department of Education. DOE agencies set up categories for the types of professional activities that can be considered and determine the number of maximum points that may be earned for each type of assignment. Possible categories for activities include:

  • Curriculum development
  • Professional publishing or speaking opportunities
  • Mentoring or supervisory assignments
  • Professional training conferences or workshops
  • Coursework at or above the level of the teaching degree held

How Local School Districts Shape Continuing Education Courses

Following the re-certification framework set by the state, school districts can address general educational issues or specific instructional concerns pertinent to local school populations. For example, a school situated in an area with high poverty rates might collaborate with regional colleges to provide coursework for teachers that identifies how poverty impacts the learning process and the best instructional approaches to improve educational experiences for affected students. Professional, legal and ethical issues are also frequent topics of study. Continuing education coursework may be offered through traditional or distance learning programs to accommodate teacher work schedules.

Instructional Topics of Continuing Education Courses

There is great variety among the types of theory and instructional courses that teachers can take to meet re-certification requirements. Sample classes geared towards instructional needs and the latest educational trends might cover:

  • Counseling applications for the classroom
  • Societal issues affecting student performance
  • Multicultural diversity and its affects on learning
  • Curriculum writing and program implementation
  • Teaching and assessment methods according to state protocols
  • Technology for the classroom
  • Enhancing performance of English language learners
  • Learning approaches for students with exceptional needs, including gifted students
  • Math, language and reading literacy
  • Collaborative teaching practices and inclusion formats

Related Resource: Instructional Coach

Continuing Education Courses for Professional Practices

In addition to instructional types of continuing education courses teachers need to take, states reserve the right to require teachers to complete coursework related to specific professional development competencies. These types of courses may focus on:

  • Staff communication and supervisory strategies
  • Educational law
  • Data management technology for grades, assessments and attendance
  • CPR and first aid procedures
  • Emergency procedures and school safety protocols
  • Parent-teacher interactions
  • Administrative roles for grade level or department leaders

Maintaining certification is only one reason why teachers take continuing education classes. An equally important reason is the desire to provide relevant, high quality instruction for students in 21st century classrooms. By providing the right types of continuing education courses teachers need to take for their students’ best interests and their own, school districts are investing in exceptional educational experiences for all learners.