Since Educational Training Specialists began offering teacher continuing education and teacher workshops, I’ve been asked, “Are you sure this qualifies for my teaching certificate renewal?” The answer is an enthusiastic and qualified, “Yes.” Prior to the creation of our professional development courses, a great deal of research was done to ensure that we would not only be able to offer outstanding teacher professional development and teacher training in nearly every area of education, but that our staff development for teachers would meet the state requirements for certification renewal.
While each state has its own set of guidelines for what counts as a teacher continuing education course, the most important qualification seems to be that it helps a teacher become better at his or her craft, or to be more effective in some way with students. In most states, the course does not necessarily have to be from a college or university. ETS has gone the extra mile to ensure that our courses will count in any state: we have sought continuing graduate credit from Chapman University that teachers can elect to receive (at a nominal additional fee, and after completing all necessary requirements of that course) after attending one of our teacher workshops, so as to ensure that every teacher training we offer will qualify in every state.
Yet, this extra step (and expense) is not always necessary. For example, in Arizona, State Board (of Education) rule states that teacher professional development can be a combination of college credits and teacher workshops in a shorter period of time (say, during the last two years before certificate expiration), or teacher staff development or teacher workshops only if done over the 6 years between renewal. Either way, the ability of teachers to choose provides some flexibility in how they approach their teaching license renewal.
While ETS offers trainings in the public, we often are contracted to perform in-district or schoolwide trainings. What’s nice about either option is that each teacher in the training can choose whether or not they want to pursue the college credit on their own. Let’s face it – those of us who have been in education for a long period of time know that, in many cases, opting (and paying for!) college credit is unnecessary once we reach the top of the salary schedule. We are happy to receive the certificate for having attended the course. Sitting at the same table during a staff development training, however, might be a second- (or fifth-, or seventh-) year teacher who needs that credit to move across the pay scale. At ETS, we understand this only too well, and have committed ourselves to offering teachers that choice.
Finally, however you decide to pursue your continuing education units or staff development clock hours, I have only one piece of advice for you: Make sure it’s time and money well-spent! 🙂