Teacher Professional Development Terms Explained by an Expert


teacher professional development article


Teacher Professional Development
Explained by an Expert



Teacher professional development requirements are such a hot topic because teachers' careers, salaries and jobs depend on properly completing complex requirements for educator continuing ed.

teacher professional developmentTeachers may be the most over regulated professionals anywhere. I'm teacher professional development speaker Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. My decades of training teachers has made me a bit of an expert on the questions teachers have about meeting continuing ed requirements. I'm going to tackle some of the most common questions here, including the confusion about online classes and webinars.

I always wonder if even surgeons or pilots are subjected to as much scrutiny, debate, discussion, testing, continuing ed requirements and rigorous evaluations as educators. Many teachers have high pressure, more-than-full time jobs, then on their own time, they have to juggle demanding college courses and high-stress tests just to stay employed.

Whether the rigorous requirements for teachers are a good thing or not, so much rides on teachers complying with applicable school, district or state professional development requirements. It is really amazing that given the importance of teacher professional development, so little standardization exists throughout the U.S. That lack of standardization contributes to the confusion about teacher professional development requirements, terminology and options.

Here's some answers to the questions that we hear the most at Youth Change Professional Development Workshops:

Teacher Professional Development Explained


teacher professional development ideas and tipsHow do I find out the exact rules I have to follow for the teacher professional development requirements I face?

Your state board of education is a good place to start, as is your teacher standards and practices board. Your union or supervisor may also be able to help. The professional development requirements will vary from state to state, district to district and even school by school. Plus, check for requirements that relate to the academic subject or grade you teach.

educator professional development tipCan you explain the difference between CEUs, clock hours, PDUs and college credit?

The abbreviations used to describe Continuing Education Units vary endlessly. CEUs and clock hours can be used interchangeably in most (but not all) places. PDUs means Professional Development Units. Oregon is one state that uses that acronym that means CEUs. Regardless of the abbreviation, CEUs generally mean 1 hour of "seat time," but again, you will find exceptions.

College credit is different from CEUs in many ways. Here are two significant ways that credit and hours differ. First, homework and/or testing are usually required for college graduate credit but not for clock hours. You will find exceptions to that rule of thumb. Clock hours earned online are more likely to require a quick quiz or test, but hours earned in person usually require only that the teacher is present for the instruction.

Second, college credit is usually more valuable and useful for more purposes than hours; but it also tends to cost a lot more. Youth Change's teacher training courses are an exception to that price difference, with both online and in-person professional development classes costing just $45-$55 tuition. Youth Change's clock hours are usually free.

In many or most venues, courses that offer college credit will satisfy the requirement for CEUs, but there will be exceptions.


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professional development training tips

Can online professional development classes satisfy teacher continuing education requirements?

If the guidelines allow Distance Learning, Webinars, Online Workshops, Home Study or Self-Guided Classes then you can use virtual classes to satisfy your professional development requirements. There can be limits to how much virtual training you are permitted so the answer may not be as simple as "yes" or "no."


teacher professional development ideas and tipsIf I didn't realize that I have to have CEUs or a graduate credit really fast– I mean ASAP– to keep my teaching license, are there many options that exist to help me?

I don't know how many options there are, but yes, organizations like Youth Change Workshops can help right away. Here at Youth Change, we routinely help students who are facing rapidly approaching, critical deadlines for completing a college credit or earning clock hours. We work with student-centered universities that are sensitive to the kind of continuing ed dilemmas teachers can face, and they will be responsive to assisting you to find a fast way to get the documentation you need.

For example, most teachers can quickly use our online course, Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshop to satisfy their requirements for either college grad credit or clock hours. In many cases, we have been able to assist teachers to complete their requirements in less than a week. We also help our online teacher professional developmentstudents quickly obtain an official university transcript for graduate credit, or official clock hour completion certificate for continuing education units. Clock hour certificates can be provided immediately upon satisfactory course completion. Learn more about how the  Online Breakthrough Strategies to Teach and Counsel Troubled Youth Workshop can assist you with the grad credit and clock hours that are required for teachers and other disciplines.


teacher professional development ideas and tipsI only need 2 or 3 clock hours. Do I have to take a whole long class that is typically 10 hours long?

Generally, you can earn 2 or 3 clock hours by taking shorter courses. For example, Youth Change Workshops offers 1 and 3 hour classes that are easy on your budget and your time. However, there will be significant exceptions. For example, in Washington State, teachers need to earn clock hours sanctioned by OSPI, the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Those clocks hours must be funneled through a university or similar entity and most Washington State universities and colleges don't routinely offer an option for earning less than 10 clock hours.


teacher professional development ideas and tipsHow do I know if a course will satisfy the specific teacher professional development requirements I have to meet?

Once you know the exact P.D. requirements you face, call us at 1.503.982.4220. You can also email your question to us as well.  If the experts here at Youth Change Workshops don't know the answer to your professional development question, we'll find an expert for you that does. We're here to help teachers, and we're ready to help you.


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About Ruth Herman Wells

Author/Trainer Ruth Herman Wells, M.S. is the director of Youth Change Professional Development Workshops. In 2011, Ruth was rated as a Top 10 U.S. K-12 educational and motivational speaker by Speakerwiki and Speakermix. She is the author of several book series, a columnist, adjunct professor for two universities, and a popular keynote speaker and workshop presenter. Ruth's dozens of books includes Temper and Tantrum Tamers and Turn On the Turned-Off Student.