Raise your hand if you’ve ever sat through a Professional Development session wondering, “How is this relevant to my instructional day?” Maybe it was during the umpteenth round of curriculum mapping or during that two-day training on the new technology your school never used. I’m willing to bet every teacher would agree our PD days need a serious facelift. We all need some creative, or at least better, ideas for getting that required Professional Development.

Here are five unique ways to earn those hours.

1. Subscribe to MasterClass

MasterClass is a streaming platform full of instructional videos. Not everything on MasterClass is geared toward or appropriate for an educator, but if taking a writing class taught by the incomparable Margaret Atwood or learning about science with none other than Dr. Jane Goodall doesn’t satisfy PD requirements, I don’t know what does! There are other online platforms that do cater to educators, though. If your district won’t accept MasterClass courses, try these fun webinars from Sadlier.

2. Mentor Another Teacher

Supervising a student teacher or signing on to mentor a new teacher are two great and worthwhile ways to earn PD credits. There are formal documents that must be completed and submitted, so be sure to check with your administration to ensure proper documentation.

3. Become a Published Author

Teachers always joke that we have enough stories to write a book. So do it! Whether a novel or an op-ed piece, this is one of the best ideas that educators can use to earn Professional Development credits by publishing resources that are relevant to the profession. According to Edutopia, their site as well as Education Post and Education Week are looking for educators to weigh in on their experiences teaching online during the pandemic. Earning PD credits and a chance to be published? Yes, please!

4. Tell Your Admin You Want Flex PD

While I understand it’s easier and more cost-effective for admin to offer one session for the entire staff, it’s certainly not the best idea for Professional Development. Ask your administrator to consider the Flexible Professional Development Model. I’ll even give you helpful talking points! The Flex PD Model allows teachers to: lead sessions and learn from our colleagues as well as outside experts (which saves the district money!); choose how and when we earn our PD credits (which encourages ownership and accountability); personalizes learning (which is something we’ve been doing for our students, why not us?!); and provides the opportunity for self-reflection (which benefits everyone).

5. Join a Book Club

Many teachers are already avid readers, so why not reward their commitment to lifelong learning with some PD hours? Tons of fantastic books for educators aim to fulfill professional development requirements with topics like how to talk about race and how to promote literacy in the digital age. Give teachers book options and then allow them to come together in their PLCs to discuss the ways they’ll adopt what they’ve read into practice.

Got more ideas? Share them here (look at us! It’s like our own virtual PD session in the comments!) Also: check with your state department of education before diving into these PD ideas; some states won’t accept credits if they haven’t been pre-approved.

Professional Development Ideas that Don't Suck