Professional Development is a Professional Obligation

Being a professional means looking for professional development opportunities.  Staff members are encouraged to attend professional development opportunities throughout the year. These can be in the form of conferences, training's and in-services. Every year money can be set aside to allow teachers to attend conferences that meet administration's criteria in the school budget. Depending on the district, it may be more cost effective to bring in a speaker or join a consortium to reduce the costs of an outside presentation to staff members. There’s power in numbers! Professional development should be rigorous, content specific, and relevant to school goals.


The least effective conference or professional development is a “sit and get” model. Teachers should look for opportunities provided by experts in their field. At the end of the training, a certificate should be awarded and submitted for credit. Depending on the district, this may be used toward salary advances or yearly required in-service training days.

Content Specific

Topics such classroom management are always in demand! This is the number one sought after training. Additionally, school contracts may often include built in professional development days that are offered through the district. These are usually general education topics so all staff benefit. However, content specific teachers should look for opportunities to improve their content knowledge as well. 

School Goals

School districts set annual professional development goals for their staff.  If teachers would like to attend a conference, they should ask their administration team. Sometimes the demand is more than the money allotted for professional development in the school or district budget. Submitting requests early is recommended. Low cost or free conferences are a great way to stretch those dollars. Teachers may be allowed to use professional development leave to cover the cost of the substitute teacher as well.

Great teachers are lifelong learners and should look for ways to continue to grow in their profession. By attending relevant professional development, teachers are learning how to create additional opportunities for their students. Not only do teachers benefit, but so do their students.


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About the Author

Teresa Marchant a Teacher Librarian at Lockwood School in Billings, Montana. She has been an educator for 20 years and has served as the Professional Development Committee Chair in her school district and on the board for the Montana Library Association. Additionally, Teresa has been part of team responsible for writing state and local Library Information Literacy standards. She holds a Masters in Educational Technology with an emphasis in Online Instruction from Montana State University as well as a certificate in School Library Media from the University of Washington. She loves learning and enjoys helping others which makes her an awesome school librarian. 

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