Professional Development (PD) Overview

What is professional development for teachers?

Why is professional development important?

How many professional development hours are required for teachers?


What is professional development for teachers?

Professional development is a way for individuals and teams to expand and/or deepen their skills as educators. Professional development (sometimes abbreviated as PD) generally refers to formal classes, seminars, and workshops. However, the term professional development can be used to describe any means by which a teacher seeks to increase understanding of teaching and further his or her teaching career, such as attending teaching-related conferences, taking online courses, or even independent study.

Professional development can be either mandatory (at the school, district, or state level) or voluntarily pursued and is occasionally subsidized.

Most commonly, the focus of professional development for teachers involves learning new teaching techniques and methodology based on emerging research, as well as strategies for implementation. However, professional development can also focus on general skills, such as interpersonal communication, or corollary subject areas, such as child psychology.

Professional development is usually distinct from graduate work as it is seen as a form of continuing education and not in pursuit of a traditional, formal degree. Professional development also differs from simple training, which focuses on teaching specific skills. Professional development is more holistic in its approach and seeks to promote continuous improvement and overall growth.

Why is professional development important?

New techniques and approaches are constantly being explored, and our understanding of how best to educate students is continually evolving. Best practices from several years ago are no longer applicable because of the rapidly evolving technology and increasing globalization of the 21st-century world. Federal and state standards are also regularly changing, resulting in the need for further education on how this affects the teaching profession.

How many professional development hours are required for teachers?

The number of professional development hours required for teachers varies by state. Please check with your state’s department/board of education or public instruction. Most states require license renewal every five years. Most states also require an average of around six graduate credits or 120–180 professional development hours per five years.

There is usually no PD requirement to obtain a teaching license for the first time, as teachers traditionally take formal classes at a college or university in order to become certified and also complete a teacher-preparation program in addition to their bachelor’s degrees.