10 Alternative Options for Professional Development for Teachers

Alternative Professional Development for TeachersTeachers deserve ongoing learning opportunities. Although this is true, working in the Covid era has eroded the desire and brain capacity to take on new learning. Long gone are the ineffective, sit-and-get PD sessions for teachers. Teachers need alternative professional development options.

If the goal of PD is to support the ongoing learning of teachers, then the way we provide these opportunities need to yield the intended results. If teachers are not learning and growing, we have to change our approach to professional development.

Alternative Options

The 10 options shared below are to motivate and encourage teachers to grow their craft.

  1. Survey teacher needs– Find out specifics about your teachers’ perceptions of their own abilities. This will allow you to create targeted learning opportunities to meet those needs. (Need a survey? Try this one.)
  2. Pause extras – To increase the learning capacity of teachers, meet with the administrative team to pause initiatives or requirements that are non-essential. This will help lessen the workload and stress of teachers.
Light Support
  1. Newsletter blasts– Cultivate a consistent weekly or monthly newsletter sharing 1-2 tips and strategies to try out in their classroom.
  2. Flyer PD- Allow teachers to learn at their pace by providing short PD snippets. Teachers  can read and implement these snippets throughout the week (ie. email newsletter, potty/copier PD).
  3. Mini PD menu– Limit PD learning to decrease overwhelm by creating a mini menu of 3-4 options of topics teachers can learn instead of a typical 3 x 3 or 4×4 menu.
Medium Support
  1. PD huddles– Empower teacher leaders (instructional leadership team/grade-level or department chairs) to lead mini PD with their colleagues. PD huddles should include 1 instructional strategy to implement that week.
  2. Micro Videos – Record 3-5 min videos of instructional techniques and provide teachers with homework for implementation and accountability (ie. journal entry, discussion board, lesson plan, etc.).
  3. Teacher work time– To provide realtime support, build in time for teachers to work with you by their side as they plan lessons, create assignments, etc.
Heavy Support
  1. PLC/PD mash up–  Provide a mixed learning opportunity of a traditional professional learning community (data dig, long-term planning, etc.) with a hands-on and bite-sized professional development session. Allowing teachers to learn, plan, evaluate and collaborate.
  2. PD in a box- For teachers who want to go above-and-beyond requirements, provide an option for them. Create a box of learning materials they can receive with instructional strategies they can implement throughout the month.  After implementing, they can invite you into their classroom to showcase their new learning.

Want to get more in-depth information for how to provide these options? Listen here to the Clubhouse Chat that inspired this post.

Next Steps





What alternative PD options do you offer your teachers?





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About the author, Gretchen

I am a teacher trainer and coach. Working elbow to elbow with teachers and teacher leaders to ensure instructional proficiency and student achievement soar lights me up. We have a real need in our nation for strong educators to remain in the field. My blog, book, podcast, courses and instructional materials are geared towards empowering teachers (and those that lead them) to receive the support needed to grow and thrive today, tomorrow and always.