Advanced Training Options for Teachers: Cultivating Your Practice

Besides being required and good for overall professional development, there are other benefits to participating in advanced-level training. Many districts pay more for master’s or Ph.D. degrees, some even add to teachers’ salaries based on additional credits earned after a degree. While money is a great motivator, for teachers it’s not usually the most important. Another reason to seek advanced training is to discover your niche. As you learn more about a certain subject, you become the campus expert. That role can lead to career advancements in unexpected ways. For example, a teacher who is extremely interested in technology integration may become the district blended learning coaches. Or teachers especially interested in how to implement project-based learning in math might become campus curriculum coaches.

There are so many advanced courses for teachers out there. Many initiatives are offered at a district-level, based on statewide goals. Those courses may be a great place to start your continuing education journey. For those teachers who’ve decided that they want to specialize in something outside of their particular subject and/or grade-level, we’ve collected a few ideas to get you started toward mastering something new.

1. Online Master’s Degree

There are plenty of reasons for teachers to consider investing time and money into a master’s degree. Besides the possibility of more pay, a master’s degree offers possible career advancements—both in education and outside of the profession. In addition, there are many graduate degrees that offer specializations in fields such as:

  • Teaching
  • Special Education
  • Administration and Leadership
  • Counseling
  • Technology
  • Curriculum and Instructional Design

Online master’s degree programs in the various educational fields are widely available, with some considered just as prestigious as in-person programs. As a working teacher, an online master’s degree program may just be the perfect answer to balancing work and continuing education.

2. National Board Certification

National Board Certification goes above and beyond the basics of state licensure. Teachers who pursue National Board Certification go through a rigorous process of meeting nationally normed standards for teaching excellence. You can get board-certified in over twenty different areas from music to world languages.

The certification process includes assessments and portfolio work. Research has shown that students of National Board Certified teachers outperform their peers in classes with teachers who are not certified. In addition, certified teachers have increased opportunities for leadership roles due to their extensive engagement with the National Board process.

3. Google Certified Educators

If you’re just getting into using tech in the classroom or you’re already an expert, Google’s got a certification program for you. To become a Google Certified Educator Level 1, you complete the Google-provided training on how to use the Google tool suite in your classroom. Then you apply your learning and practice your new skills both online and in the classroom. Then you take the ten-dollar, 180-minute certification test. The Level 2 certificate follows the same process covering more advanced and in-depth material. The Level 2 certificate costs twenty-five dollars. Google certification gives you an advantage as a tech-savvy teacher. More and more schools are adopting blended learning and flipped classroom programs. With these certifications, you’ll be on the cutting edge of new pedagogical practices.

4. NASA Endeavor STEM Teaching Certification Project

STEM learning is a huge focus in education right now. The Endeavor STEM Teaching Certification program is a fully online experience using materials developed by NASA. The Endeavor program has a beginner track for elementary or generalist teachers and an advanced track for upper-level science teachers and K-12 STEM specialists. The program consists of 3-courses that lead to the NASA Endeavor Leadership Certificate in STEM Education from Teachers College at Columbia University. Participants learn to integrate STEM principles and become campus and district advocates for continued improvement of science and math teaching programs. The certificate program costs $5,495 and lasts for 6-9 months.

Advanced training is a requirement for educators. It keeps them learning with the latest tools and using the most recent research to improve education in the United States. There are many options and programs related to professional development for teachers to pursue. Some are close to home—check with your district or local school region offices to see what kind of training they offer. Other opportunities are ones you’ll seek out yourself in order to become the best teacher you can. You preach lifelong learning to your students because you know how truly important it is.

Amanda Ronan is an Austin-based writer. After many years as a teacher, Amanda transitioned out of the classroom and into educational publishing. She wrote and edited English, language arts, reading, and social studies content for grades K-12. Since becoming a full-time writer, Amanda has worked with a diverse set of clients, ranging from functional medicine doctors to design schools to moving companies. She blogs, writes long-form articles, and pens YA and children's fiction. Her first YA series, My Brother is a Robot, is slated for release by Scobre Educational Press in September 2015.