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professional development

Parents and teachers are in a unique position to understand the importance of growth and learning.

Each day we watch as our kids and students are challenged to think beyond what they already know and to mold their young minds around new concepts, new language, new life lessons that shape who they are tomorrow. But, learning and growing are not just vital for adolescents. In fact, “professional development” tools are now touted in almost every career field as a necessary part of advancing to that next position or pay grade.

Parents and teachers must also be constantly developing themselves, challenging their current methods, and adapting to ever-changing trends in education and childhood development.

In this blog post, we break down 10 different ways that parents and teachers can learn, grow, and adapt this year. Specifically, we target ways that you can stay up-to-date on the following important subjects:

  • Tech for our youth
  • Implementing the common core
  • Current events that effect our kids
  • Innovative ideas for Parent Groups
  • Personal leadership

Many of these tools are entertaining as well as educational. We’ve also tried to incorporate methods of learning that are flexible and free (two of our favorite words!). We know that parents and teachers are already strapped with a hefty to-do list, but these learning opportunities are a great excuse to get a break to yourself while focusing on the often-ignored necessity of personal and professional development.  

1. Conferences

Whether local, regional, or national, conferences are a great way to expand your thinking and learn from the pros. Most conferences are focused on specific topics (i.e., tech in the classroom), offer the opportunity to hear from experts along with small group time to network with fellow colleagues, as well as provide the chance for you to meet vendors and learn about some incredible services (like our own!).

While conferences are not cheap, there is the potential that your employer will pay for your pass if they see it as a good means of professional development (educators can also get discounts at some conferences – always ask!).

Conferences we recommend:pto today expo 2018

2. MOOCs

MOOCs stand for Massive Online Open Courses. It’s like taking a classroom and putting it online so everyone can have a seat. Typically, MOOCs are free, although some may have a cost.

Most MOOCs will be “live” for a period of time, but if a class has passed, you can still take it at a later time by reading the course work and watching the videos and completing the assignments. If you get in a class that is live, then you can collaborate with virtual colleagues, talk to the instructor and get feedback on your work.

We suggest you check out MOOC-List, Coursera, edX, Udemy, and Saylor for updated lists of current and upcoming courses. We love MOOCs because they offer collegiate level education for parents and teachers. They are taught by experts and professors in their fields of study and some even come with certification or, for educators, may count toward needed professional development hours.

We’ve divided our recommended MOOCs into courses for teachers and those best suited for parents, although we think both groups would benefit from checking out either list!

MOOCs for Educators:

MOOCs for Parents:

3. Webinars

Webinars are online seminars, typically streamed live, for participants to learn and engage with professionals on certain topics. These are great tools for e-learning, meaning you can learn from the comfort of your couch or even listen in while you are completing another task.

Most Webinars will include a Q&A session after the presentation, as well as a compiled report or notes that you can reference later. These are great resources for teams or individuals and most webinars may be accessed without cost.

Where to Find Relevant Webinars:

Webinars typically last about an hour and most require you to register ahead of time. Here are the places we look for relevant webinars on parenting and teaching.

4. Content Curation

Finding quality sources for news and articles in the vast expanse of the internet can be a daunting task. Content curation involved online tools that both help you to find the information you’re looking for and to keep it organized. The tools we list below are also helpful because they allow you to easily save and share relevant articles wflipboard screenshotith peers or on social media.

Tools for Curation & Organization:

Tip: Make it a morning ritual! Keep one of the tools open on your computer or tablet throughout the day and save the articles that come up on social media feeds or those found through your content curation tools. Carve out some time at night or in the morning to read the articles you’ve saved and bookmark or share the ones you want to discuss with peers, your kids, your spouse, etc.

5. Reading the Latest & Greatest

Reading is the number one way to increase your intelligence. Whether that’s digital reading on a kindle or sitting down with a physical book, learning through a narrative form is both effective and entertaining.

readingWe recommend that you read the latest and greatest in non-fiction books for parents and teachers. But, we also recommend that you consume the same content that your kids are taking in. While reading the latest YA novel might not sounds appeasing, it can make a huge difference in your ability to connect with and to teach your children/students.

Where to Find Your Next Book:

6. Podcasts

Podcasts make learning personal. Each episode you get to hear the stories, lessons and often funny anecdotes from someone who is knowledgeable about the subject at hand. Plus, podcasts are free and super convenient. After you subscribe to a podcast feed, each new episode is automatically downloaded to your devices and you can listen to at your convenience. Whether you’re looking for a podcast that you can sympathize with (i.e., Spawned) or something that will keep you engaged and up-to-date with current events (i.e., Mom & Dad are Fighting), these are the parenting podcasts we recommend (although there are plenty more out there – send us your suggestions!).

Podcasts for Parents: 

There are also loads of podcasts that center on education and teaching. These are often produced by past or present educators who feel they have knowledge and stories to share with their peers.

Podcasts for Educators:

Discover More Podcasts

Want more podcast recommendations? We suggest you check out, Podcast Alley, or All Podcasts to find the best & brightest podcasters out there!

7. Blogs

It might not surprise you to hear that we’re a fan of blogs. We think the TGMC blog is a great resource for Parent Groups and we know there are many more blogger out there that have some great info for parents and teachers.

Blogs are entertaining, enables dialogues between the readers and bloggers, are easily shareable, pertain plenty of narrative lessons, and many offer practical tools that you can apply right away.

Blogs We Recommend:


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