Build Trust & Strong Relationships with Teacher PD

Those outside of the educational field often have questions regarding professional development. Most people think teachers don’t work in the summer or after the school bell rings, which is far from the truth! Many educators use the summer months or their evening hours to complete professional development classes. By understanding more about professional development you can share a common language and build trusting relationships with school districts and individual educators.

What is Professional Development?

What it is: Educators call professional development by different names: PD, workshops, inservice, continuing education, or even training. They are basically all the same. These classes provide credits that can be used for recertification, “step-up” credits (meaning teachers can make more money), or they can even earn college credits that can be used for advanced degrees.

States and school districts have yearly professional development requirements. Most of the classes teachers take fall within these main categories.

  1. Content Area workshops (math, science, etc.)
  2. Technology for the classroom
  3. Engagement and other Teaching Strategies
  4. Classroom management/Behavior Strategies

What it is NOT: Professional development should not be isolated learning. Teachers love “take aways” or ideas to incorporate into their teaching. It's also important that there be ongoing support after classes or courses that will help teachers ensure they're properly integrating the new ideas and strategies they've learned into their practice.

Interested in adding professional development to your services?

By understanding a little more about professional development you may want to consider offering classes to help build strong relationships with educators and ensure successful production implementation. First, you need to understand the school structure and who decides which classes are approved for professional development credits. Next,  understand the needs of adult learners. Lastly, know how you will incorporate your products into professional development.

School Structure

Many schools have professional development time built into their yearly schedules. On early release days, teachers are given time for vision teams, inservice, PLC, and record keeping. With weekly early out schedules, teachers are given these opportunities for learning and growth within their districts. Recently, our district moved to a different decision making model. All of our teachers are assigned to a vision team. We meet monthly (on one of the early out days) and discuss various concerns and needs of the district. The names of our teams include Management/Safety, Technology, Instruction, and Assessment. The chair and co-chair of each team serve on the Leadership team. Within the Leadership team, bigger decisions are made, but the information will be shared with all teachers through the individual vision team. Many schools are moving to this model so that teachers have a voice in the decision making process. All of this adds to the continued professional development of the staff.

When it comes to professional development, the teacher becomes the student

Adult learners have their own set of expectations. The acronym “STUDENT” will help explain these differences.

  • Schedules need to work with a a teachers’ contract day, which is typically from 7:30am-3:30pm.
  • Timely topics that are relevant and applicable to teaching and classroom settings.
  • Understand not all teachers can attend the live session. Record and offer a download.
  • Discounts are a great way to entice participation. FREE is even better!
  • Engaging instructors make it all worthwhile. A boring discussion leader can be disastrous.
  • Needs of the individuals and districts are vast. Provide personalization and customization.
  • Technology needs to work! Nothing is more frustrating to adult learners than when programs and systems don't work.

Incorporate your products into the professional development


Did you know that teachers spend on average of $468 of their own money on school supplies? Even though we hate to see school supplies on the shelves in mid July because it means that the start of the school year is approaching fast, it’s a helpful reprieve because they are often offered at a fraction of the cost. Teachers love good deals! You can hook customers by offering more than products, integrate them into quality professional development opportunities to introduce educators to how they can use your products to support their practice.

Professional development sessions should lead to change or improve teaching and learning. After attending, teachers begin implementing new ideas; which is the rationale behind professional development. By offering professional development classes along with your products, you can be the key to unlock learning which will also foster your relationships with schools and individuals.

Now that you have learned a little more about professional development, how does it change your view of how your products can support teaching and learning?


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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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