3 Professional Development Alternatives for CTE Educators

As a CTE educator, sometimes it’s challenging to get away from the classroom to invest in your skill set amidst the many tasks teachers juggle daily. While educators should consistently pursue professional development to develop their skills as teachers, sometimes it’s easier to meet professional development needs in shorter, more flexible increments. Luckily for today’s educators, there are unique alternative solutions to professional development available, capable of sharpening your skills as an educator and fitting into your busy schedule. In this blog, iCEV will explore three unique professional development alternatives for CTE educators to sharpen their skills and stay updated on educational trends and news to best educate students.

Book Clubs

As a cognitive approach to professional development, book clubs allow teachers to synthesize knowledge individually and in a group setting to then incorporate knowledge into classroom strategies and practices. Teacher book clubs help encourage educators to experience professional development not as a passive consumer but rather as engaged learners. Book clubs engage educators in deep conversations to layer personal experiences with literacy learning, creating shared learning experiences and knowledge between educators within a group.

Book clubs should meet over several weeks to allow participants to sit with ideas over time. This can lead to paradigm shifts that evolve while also allowing educators to test out ideas or relate insights to their context over a longer time frame. Books chosen for the group should discuss new ways of teaching and thinking as well as reinvigorate teachers’ passion and drive to develop students for their future. A great book to start your book club could be ‘Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance’ by Dr. Angela Duckworth. Dr. Duckworth was a keynote speaker at CTE Inspired 2022 hosted by iCEV and has immense insight into developing grit in students to persevere. Start your book club today and begin to see how building community, shared knowledge and growth mindsets through teacher book clubs can benefit your CTE program. 

Podcasts

In the rapidly changing world of education, professional development is not an option; it’s a necessity. Another innovative way to fit professional development into a busy schedule is through podcasts. Education podcasts often host knowledgable education thought leaders and leading educators who share their knowledge and expertise with listeners. Whether an educator has an enduring interest in a specific aspect of teaching or wants to inform themself on the latest developments in education technology, there are limitless podcasts to choose from covering a wide range of topics relevant to today’s educational challenges.

Find a podcast you can relate to discussing relevant topics to you as an educator, the courses you teach and the challenges you face. When educators can share and hear from other educators’ experiences, challenges and successes the educational community as a whole gets stronger as shared experiences and knowledge lead to a more extensive knowledge base. Examples of great podcasts to tune into include ‘MindShift’ by KQED or the ‘Cult of Pedagogy’ podcast. In these podcasts, experienced educators and educational professionals have real conversations about issues educators face everywhere and solutions to create a better learning environment for students. Find a podcast that interests you and tune in often to reap the most benefits from this innovative new way of professional development for educators.     

Subscribe to a Blog

Educational blogs can be an easy and valuable means of professional development for today’s CTE educators as they share valuable insight and resources in concise, reader-friendly ways. While attending professional development experiences is the most impactful way to develop your skills as an educator, often times a blog can quickly communicate the same information as a workshop but in a more concise and easily consumable way. The key to finding the best blog for you as an educator is to identify your interests, challenges and needs and find a blog or multiple blogs that align with those factors.

Once you’ve subscribed to a blog, stick with it! View the blog weekly or as often as the company or organization publishes blogs to ensure you, as an educator, are consistently engaging in professional development experiences. Great blogs to subscribe to include Cult of Pedagogy or Edutopia, as they regularly share inspiration for teachers and strategies for engaging students in their learning. To subscribe to iCEV’s blog, where we share weekly inspiration, strategies and CTE stories, fill out the “Stay Informed” card on the blog home page.

Consistent professional development is invaluable to today’s CTE educators as it ensures they have the knowledge, strategies and skills to educate and equip students with the tools they need to be successful in their chosen career endeavors. While CTE educators may find themselves too busy to take substantial time away from the classroom for professional development, there are limitless alternative opportunities for professional development teachers can engage in on their own schedule. To learn more about professional development opportunities, visit our website to view iCEV’s professional development webinar offerings. Educators can also follow us on our social channels for more tips, strategies and inspiration to take CTE learning in your classroom to the next level.

About the Author

JoshuaWitherspoon_WEBAfter serving as a Texas FFA state officer in 2018, Josh Witherspoon joined the iCEV team as a part-time employee for 3 years before taking on the role of content development specialist in 2022. Witherspoon holds a bachelor's degree in agricultural communications from Texas Tech University, in which his experience and proficiency in writing, marketing and CTE allow him to effectively communicate the successes of CTE educators and students and the value iCEV has to offer. 

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