17 Helpful Professional Development Resources for Early Educators

learn-and-lead-small-2In last month’s post, I talked about your role in developing life-long learners of your staff through professional development experiences. This is a bit of an extension of that previous post with some specific suggestions for professional development resources to enhance your work with young children and their families.

Early Childhood teachers are notorious for being able to stretch a dollar! Following are some excellent sources for FREE and inexpensive online professional development resources. The beauty of these (besides the cost) is their ease of completion on your own time-table!

Perpetual Preschool – I think this is an all-around good website for a variety of ideas from monthly themes to parent education to home visits. This site pretty much covers everything early childhood. In addition to the curricular resources they offer good online workshops. Most are $7, self-paced on a wide variety of topics.

Conscious Discipline – If you aren’t yet familiar with Conscious Discipline, this Becoming the Best You Can Be webinar series is a great starting point! Conscious Discipline is a comprehensive self-regulation program that integrates social-emothional learning and discipline. This free webinar series offers seven 30-minute segments on the Seven Powers of Conscious Discipline. Be ready for this to transform your teaching and life!

Scholastic – This link is to Scholastic Professional Author TalkAbout video interviews where noted authors answer questions about important issues in education. These short clips can be some great conversation starters on educational trends and best practices. In addition, there is also a series of webinars Best Practices in the Early Childhood Classroom to complement Scholastic’s new comprehensive early childhood curriculum.

edWeb.net – This is a great professional social and learning network where you can collaborate and share ideas about education. While it is geared toward K-12 professionals, there are many topics pertinent to younger early childhood professionals. From webinars with grabbing titles like Zombies, Fairies, and Superheroes: How to Teach Science by Letting Students Choose the Topic to Professional Learning Communities this site has a variety of opportunities to exchange ideas with your peers while also improving your own teaching and learning.

Hatch – Hatch has invited experts to talk about trends and best practices. This Expert webinar series is geared to early childhood administrators, but teachers and parents are also welcome to attend the free sessions. In case you missed one, an archive of some really good past webinars is also available.

Checkout These Local NC Resources

In addition to these online resources for free and inexpensive professional development resources, I challenge you to look around your community for other learning opportunities. I am fortunate to be living in my state’s capital which is filled with great museums and learning experiences. While I know many of you aren’t local, I share these resources with you to show you what is out there and encourage you to find similar opportunities in your own backyard.

The North Carolina Farm Bureau plays an integral role in providing information to teachers throughout the state. They have created curricula starting for Pre-K through high school. My staff was fortunate enough to host an Ag in the Classroom workshop which was the impetus behind our getting raised planter boxes, compost bin, and rain barrel for our preschool.

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is the largest museum of its kind in the Southeast. Through exhibits, programs and field experiences, it provides visitors with opportunities to get up close and personal with science and nature. The Museum is also committed to providing educators with field experiences, helping teachers turn their school grounds into areas for wildlife and learning and promoting strategies for incorporating the natural sciences into all areas of the curricula. In addition, for those not local, the museum’s online adventures mean you’re just a click away from some amazing classroom explorations!

The North Carolina Museum of Art provides a wide array of free and inexpensive resources for educators of all ages and disciplines. From Teacher’s Day Out tour of the museum to both on-site and off-site workshops and webinars and lesson plans, the museum is dedicated to bringing their collection to you and your students.

National Park Service – The great outdoors, especially our nation’s parks, are our greatest classrooms! The National Park Service offers distance learning, curriculum materials, and professional development resources for teachers.

Continuing with the outdoor education theme, my fondest and most rewarding professional development experiences were through the following three programs. They are a little more costly than the free and inexpensive programs I’ve shared, but in my opinion they are worth every penny!

  1. Project Learning Tree  –  They have recently expanded their award-winning environmental education program to include curriculum for preschool children too.
  2. Project WILD –  a wildlife focused conservation education program, is based on the premise that young people and educators have a vital interest in learning about our natural world. Sharing some of these experiences with my students makes me realize how true this is!
  3. Project Wet has dedicated itself to the mission of reaching children, parents, teachers and community members of the world with water education. What an awesome way to help in educating children about the most precious resource on the planet — water.

Talking about all these awesome learning experiences has me itching to find my next one. I’m not sure what that will be, but I look forward to hearing what other ideas you might have to share!

About the Author

beth-dickinson

This is a guest blog post from Beth Dickinson. Beth spent five years teaching primary grades in public school before having children. She has spent eight years as a preschool director including the last six years as the Director at Hayes Barton Baptist Preschool in Raleigh, NC.