If you are teaching, it means you’ve met the basic requirements for an career in education. But if you want to do the best job for your students, you’ll go beyond the basics and continue your education. Continuing education can make a big difference if you work toward advanced degrees, national certification, and individual professional development.
“Continuing education” refers to the need for teachers to stay abreast of developments in their own specialty as well as in the field of education in general. It is often required for teachers to maintain their credentials.
Although business and industry seem to understand the need to build human capacity by continually re-training to maintain profitability and competitiveness, teaching, the basis for preparing not just the workforce but also the citizenry as a whole, is often not considered worth much in terms of investment.
Continuing education or continuing professional development is one means of developing the human capacity of teachers. It is required for recertification and maintaining professional credentials. Though more is expected from today’s students and teachers, less is being invested in professional development in the field.
Connecticut’s CEU guidelines strengthen the connection between the investment in ongoing teacher professional development and improved student learning. They build on and strengthen Connecticut’s commitment to equity and excellence in education. The following principles have guided the design of these guidelines:
- Student learning is directly affected by teacher competence;
- Teacher competence is enhanced by ongoing professional development and continuous learning; and
- Teachers, like students, must be continual learners.
The No Child Left Behind Act has stepped up requirements for teachers.
School districts provide many options to help teachers continue their education. Most school systems offer professional development programs throughout the school year. Summer courses, after-school classes, and professional day programs are other popular options.
Many school systems offer assistance and support, including financial aid, for teachers willing to go beyond what is offered locally.
National Board Certification is the highest credential in teaching and can take more than a year to complete. It is gaining popularity and recognition nationwide. Although state certification sets standards for new teachers, National Board Certification sets advanced standards for experienced teachers.
The certification is offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, an independent nonprofit governed by classroom teachers. It is voluntary and is open only to licensed teachers with a bachelor’s degree and three years of teaching experience. Cost of the assessment (as of 2010) is $2,500, with financial support available through various sources, including the National Board Scholarship Program, the National Education Association, and the American Federation of Teachers. States provide support through the federal Candidate Subsidy Program, and local districts offer loans to their teachers.
National Board Certification requires teachers to demonstrate that every aspect of their work, both inside and outside the classroom, improves student learning. When teachers achieve National Board Certification, it benefits their students, their school, their school districts, and their communities.
Another method of continuing education is working to earn a higher degree. Teachers with higher degrees tend to earn more.