I have been seeing many teachers New Year's resolutions and many seem to be to learn new technology, try a new technique in class, or, basically, to keep growing. As a teacher it is really important to always be growing. We should strive to be a better teacher every day. Luckily, there are tons of places to find professional development: local conferences, at your school, and even online!
1. LinkedIn / Facebook / Twitter etc. That's right! Social media is an easy and informal way to keep developing as a teacher. You can join groups on Facebook and linked in that are devoted just to your subject, or all educators. With twitter you can follow certain hashtags or other teachers. Teachers share blog posts, links to awesome videos, and help one another out when they have questions. When I first started teaching a deaf student I had NO idea how to adjust my lessons. LinkedIn gave me some great responses and encouragement!
2. Webinars There are tons of webinars online! Some of them charge, but I've found a great number that don't. Keep an eye on social media to see when new ones come up. The British Council just did one on teaching Special Needs students, Cambridge recently did one on teaching higher level learners and American TESOL does one every Friday on technology to use in class! Most book publishers will hold webinars so you can search their sites too (e.g. MacmIllan). Attending these live (or watching the recording) is a great way to grow as a teacher. Sometimes completion of these webinars will even get you a certificate.
3. Classes Websites like Udemy, WizIQ, iversity and others make it easy to make yourself a better teacher without every leaving the room. There are the classes you'd normally think about (like online TEFL certificates) as well as ones that may not be as obvious. For example, learning to code, or taking better pictures could make you a better teacher. Keep an eye out for MOOCs too! These are classes which are typically held on a large scale. Many universities have started offering these for free. Harvard, Yale, and others
4. Blogs That's right, I count reading blogs as professional development. I get great ideas from seeing what other teachers have done. I love being able to be inspired by other teachers and adapt their lessons or ideas to my own classes. Don't limit yourself to just your subject area and age level. I have gotten great ideas from math teachers' blogs and many activities designed for little children are easily adapted to adults. Just by seeing how other teachers do things (and learning from their mistakes) you will be a better teacher! I admit I don't really have bloggers that I follow regularly. I mainly check out whatever blogs look good when they are posted on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.
e-books. Whatever you can get your hands on that will give you more information and make you more creative or make you a better prepared teacher.
In the end that's it. The five different ways you can become a better teacher online.
What do you think? Did I leave anything out?