Jan 8 / Amanda Sant

Getting Professional Development Done

Professional development is hard to find time for. 

While professional development is a key to ongoing success and development with teachers, if it isn’t timed properly or if teachers feel they don’t have time to engage with what they are learning, professional development can become more of a stumbling block than a help. 

Choosing when and how to give employees the opportunity to complete professional development training is critical in making the experience worthwhile. In this article, we will look at different ways you can schedule professional development throughout the year. 

Professional Development Days: 

Professional Development Days (or PDD) are a great way to both check some professional development off of your list and get your team some quality bonding time. 

These days are usually set aside on a weekday holiday or Saturday, a day when children won’t be coming to your center. President’s Day or Labor Day are both great weekday holidays that could work for PDD. Since employees will be coming in on a day when a lot of other people they know get time off, it might be worthwhile to serve lunch, play games, or offer a swag bag or something else to help them feel like they aren’t missing out on a day off. 
Using an online professional development course, attending a live-virtual training, or hiring an in-person instructor to attend your PDD can all lead to a wonderful day that helps your team feel closer and more excited to work toward a shared goal. 

Attending Conferences: 

There are a lot of national, virtual, and local Early Childhood Education (ECE) conferences that an entire center can attend and earn professional development hours at! These conferences are usually high energy and offer a wide variety of training topics and types, making them a good fit for almost anyone. 
In addition to getting professional development training done, your team is also able to enjoy time together outside of their normal working environment and have fun making memories!

While some conferences can be fairly affordable to attend, registration for some national conferences can get pretty pricey and doesn’t include travel or lodging costs. It could work to plan a conference with leadership or other certain members of your staff while leaving another option for other staff members. 

Ongoing Professional Development: 

If finishing a big chunk of your professional development training in one day or at one conference doesn’t seem like the right idea for you and your team, consider offering consistent time throughout the year for teachers to work on professional development activities. 
This could include free training that can be found online, like Early Childhood Investigations Webinars or episodes of the podcast Out of Ratio with Bertelsen Education, both of which are free and offer certificates. Using an online training provider that your teachers can access at any time could also help your team get ongoing access to training. Many states also offer free or reduced price trainings through a registry system or training calendar that can help fill in gaps for your teachers!

Whatever you choose, it is important to make sure that you create a schedule in advance, communicate that schedule to your employees, and then stick to it! You don’t want to wait until right before your deadline to start hours worth of training!

Find what works for you

When deciding how to meet professional development requirements in your year, consider your team, time, and budget. Explore a lot of options and choose the option that looks the best to you! Don’t be afraid to shake it up year after year and try something new until you find your favorite way to meet your goals. 

Remember too, that the most important part of professional development is not just getting it done. Focus on quality and the needs of the people you work with first, and your PD will be well worth the work.

In any case, planning can go a long way in making professional development less of a hassle and more of a help!