Professional Development For Teachers: 15 Fun Ways to Earn Credits in 2020

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Professional Development For Teachers: 15 Fun Ways to Earn Credits in 2020

This article is sponsored by EF Educational Tours, the leader in international student travel, helping teachers and students discover the world through immersive educational travel.

Professional development hours are an unavoidable part of being a teacher – well, if you want to keep your certification and continue teaching, that is. We’ve all spent many afternoons, evenings, teacher workdays and Saturdays crammed in an uncomfortable student desk to get PD hours. The quality of these events put together by the administration isn’t always the best, the topic might not apply to you and you probably sit there daydreaming of your couch, pizza, and Netflix the whole time. But you get the hours where you can, right?

Well, there’s a better way! Leaving your school opens you up to so many different ways to experience professional development.

Going away for professional development combines learning and a vacation all while racking in the required PD hours. It’s a winning combination!  Here are some of the best professional development opportunities for 2020:

1. National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE): 

Learn the latest best practices in teaching literacy, language, and writing. Pick up some new strategies. Meet your favorite authors, pick up new books for your classroom library and spend time deep in conversation with other literary lovers. November 19-22, Denver, Colorado.

2. Digital Learning Annual Conference:

Explore best practices and the latest developments in using technology in the classroom, February 24-26, Austin, Texas.

3. EF Educational Tours:

Go outside of the traditional PD environment while checking locations off your bucket list. EF educational tours allow you to earn credits while exploring the world alongside your students and colleagues.

Pick a location to explore from over 250 itineraries and EF does the planning! Earn PD credits while touring Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America or popular cities in North America. Teachers act as tour guides and earn professional development hours while getting a dream travel experience. You earn 25 PD hours per (FREE!) training tour and 45 PD hours for each tour you lead on your own. Tours are available in a wide range of focuses, including language, theatre, dance, STEM, service learning, history, culture and more.

Enter their current giveaway for a chance to win a FREE Professional Learning Trip to Berlin for 6 nights – includes flights, accommodation, meals, tours of beautiful Germany, and 45 Professional Learning hours!

4. EdCamps:

EdCamps are a very unique professional development opportunity. They are free and led by attendees. The agenda for the day is determined when you arrive based on attendee interest and anyone can be a presenter – yes, even you. The EdCamp model is based on experience is what makes the expert. Dozens of EdCamp events are held across the country, so it’s easy to find one near you – or near where a spot you’d like to visit.

5. Montessori for Social Justice Conference:

This conference is dedicated to dismantling racism and bias. It will be held June 25-28 in Hartford, Connecticut.

6. Council for Exceptional Children:

This conference is dedicated to teachers working with children with special needs, February 5-8, Portland, Oregon.

7. National Endowment for the Humanities:

The National Endowment for the Humanities offers a number of summer seminars for k-12 teachers in a variety of topics and locations. The seminars last from 1-4 weeks and are free with funding available to help cover travel and lodging expenses.

8. National Conference on School Discipline:

Learn the best practices when it comes to behavior management and discipline. Discussions include a variety of behavior problems, students with special needs, and legal issues. July 24-28, Atlanta, Georgia.


Nearly 20,000 educators convene for workshops, strategy sessions, policy discussion, film screening, mentorships and more. March 9-12, Austin, Texas.

10. National Science Teaching Association (NSTA):

Learn the latest in science content, strategy, and research with several conference options. The annual conference is in Boston April 2-5. The STEM Forum and Expo is July 22-24 in Louisville, Kentucky. Area conferences will be held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania October 29-31, New Orleans November 19-21 and Phoenix, Arizona December 10-12.

11. Science in the Rockies:

Science guru Steve Spangler brings an interactive STEM experience to Denver, Colorado July 7-9.

12. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM):

Gather with other math teachers for workshops, speakers and more. April 1-4, Chicago, Illinois.

13. ASCD Empower Conference:

This one brings the big names, including Henry Winkler and LeVar Burton. March 13-16, Los Angeles, California.

14. National Charter Schools Conference:

Connect with over 5,000 charter school teachers and admins. June 21-24, Orlando, Florida.

15. Kagan Summer Institute:

Kagan publishing offers a week of sessions on bullying, emotional, regulation, math and more. July 6-17 at the Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida.

Here are a few perks of doing PD outside of the classroom:

You get to go on an adventure!

You don’t have to sit in a seat all day to get professional development hours. They can happen while hiking in the desert, at a theme park or even on a cruise ship. Volunteer in the Appalachian mountains, explore a National Park or learn about waterways from a kayak. There are so many fun and exciting options for PD.

You choose what you want to learn!

Travel to events that make the most sense for your educational philosophy, goals and subject area. Or you might even want to go outside your comfort zone and learn about some new things. When you expand your search to a larger area you don’t have to settle for the limited options offered locally. You’re in the driver’s seat of your learning and growth.

You get a little time away for yourself (and there are ways to help cover the costs)!

Traveling for PD often means a hotel stay.  There’s nothing like walking into a nice, clean, quiet hotel room! Bliss! Wondering how you’re going to pay for hotels and other travel expenses? Here are some tips:

  • Check with your district to see what funding is available for PD. Many teachers have been surprised that funds were available when they asked.
  • Professional development expenses are often a tax deduction. Check with your tax professional for more info.
  • There are grants for teacher professional development. Do some research and submit your applications!

Planning a trip to get PD hours will give you something to look forward to and will provide you with a whole box of new info and skills. And the best part is you’ll feel like a professional, have fun and get a break from your everyday life while doing it.

Professional Development For Teachers: 15 Fun Ways to Earn Credits in 2020

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