How to Get Your Professional Development Class Approved

Approval process logo

You have an exceptional teaching topic that is applicable to a lot of k-12 teachers. You believe it might be a valuable professional development opportunity for teachers regionally and nationally, but how do you get the class approved for credit? We frequently get individuals who want to offer a professional development class but aren’t sure how to get started. In today’s post, I will provide you with an overview of how a k-12 professional development opportunity goes from being a great idea to being a great class.

This post is specific to individuals who want to offer a class through NDSU’s Distance and Continuing Education program that is open to all teachers regionally or nationally.

Here is a useful article, for those who want information on offering a school exclusive professional development class.

The Idea is There

Idea light bulb 

Many k-12 teachers have a strong understanding of the type of development teachers need and would be excellent in teaching it. They have a unique topic or idea but might be unaware they are eligible (and needed!) to teach a class.

Assuming you meet all the requirements, you can offer a class through the Distance and Continuing Education program offered by the Office of Teaching and Learning at NDSU.

Course Approval Process

Getting your class approved is a relatively simple process, but it does take some advanced preparations.

Here is an overview of what the process looks like:

  1. Contact Our Office With Your Idea For a Class

Call our office (701-231-7015) and let us know your idea for a professional development class. When you call, have as many details ready as possible. You do not have to have a fully developed class but a well-developed idea helps us to better understand your potential class.

  1. Discuss Class Requirements

Barb Schumacher, professional development coordinator, meets with new instructors by phone or in person to get an idea of the class they are planning to offer. Barb will ask questions like:

  • Who is your intended audience?
  • What are the objectives of the class?
  • What assignments or activities are you planning to offer?
  • What will the grading method be? (pass/fail or letter grade)

Barb also offers helpful suggestions for the unique needs of your class. There are so many suggestions for making a course successful that this topic warrants its own blog post. Hopefully, I will get to writing that post soon. When I do, I will link it here.

  1. Build Your Course Documents

blocks creating a stairs

For many of you, you may already have a class prepared that you have offered for your school or district. If so, you can skip to the Submit Your Documents step.

If you are teaching a new class or are new to teaching for our office, this is the time where you will develop a syllabus, course description, topical outline, an assessment rubric, and objectives. You will work on aligning your class with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. We will also need a short biography about you or a curriculum vitae, if you have not previously submitted one, and a photo. The photo is used on our website to accompany your short biography and allows potential class participants to put a face with the name of their instructor.

To help you prepare your syllabus, we offer an electronic form to fill out. Until you are ready to officially submit your course, you can write your syllabus off-line based on our syllabus template found here.

  1. Submit Your Documents

There are two main documents you need to fill out for the official approval process to begin. The first is a course proposal form. The second is a course syllabus form.

Screenshot of the course proposal

The course proposal form provides our office with all the information necessary to get the course approved. We also use this form for writing a teaching contract, listing your class on our website, creating a class evaluation form, creating the class in our transcript system, and in many other behind-the-scenes ways.

Screenshot of proposal course syllabus

The course syllabus form provides our office details about your class. These details are reviewed by each individual responsible for approving your class. You REALLY want to ensure your class syllabus is written the way our course syllabus form indicates to ensure it is not rejected by those approving your class. You do not need to submit the actual form; you can submit your approval via email to Barb Schumacher as long as it matches the course approval form format. Here is a post detailing what a syllabus should look like when it is submitted to our office.

  1. Materials are Distributed for Approval

Once all of the required forms and materials are received, Barb will send your materials to three individuals for approval. Those individuals are the director or acting director of the Office of Teaching and Learning, the chair of the appropriate department (ex. Education Department), and the dean of the college in which the department is housed. (ex. College of Human Science and Education). Each individual reviews your documents and can either approve the class, approve the class with modifications, or deny approval of the class.

It is quite rare to have a course approval denied, most classes come back approved or approved with slight modifications.

  1. Promotion Begins

The fun begins when we receive the necessary signatures for approval of your class. Your class gets added to our website (unless it is school exclusive), and a variety of promotional activities are planned. Every class offered is listed in our emails to our regional and national listserv of k-12 teachers.

If it is a summer course and we received your materials by our publication deadline, your class will be listed in our summer bulletin. There are a variety of other ways we promote classes, but some do not need much promotion. We do, however, encourage you to promote your class among your network of teachers.

  1. Contract is Sent

After the class is approved, our office will write up a contract for your class. You will receive your contract via email from or another staff member.

That is the basic approval process your class goes through

Individuals who are new to teaching for our Distance and Continuing Education program may have to offer their class a few semesters before good registration numbers materialize.

"Some of our most successful classes started with small registration numbers."

The biggest mistake we see is offering a class for one semester but canceling the class because there are fewer registrations than expected or other reasons. If you are planning to offer a class with us, make sure you are committed to offering the class even if there are only a few registrations. Some of our most successful classes started with small registration numbers.

Another reason to offer a class with fewer than desired registrations is that teachers often need the classes in the semester they registered for, for various reasons. When a class is canceled unexpectedly, those teachers are burdened with the task of searching for another class to get in to. Often those teachers won’t take another class from an instructor who canceled a class they once registered for.

Now that you know the approval process for k-12 professional development, go out and create a class or recruit a fellow teacher to offer a class with you. Read about what to think about when designing a K-12 professional development class.

Tell us in the comments below what classes you would like to see offered. This may help some individuals see the need for a class in their area of expertise.

About the Author

Connie Jadrny

Connie Jadrny, is the marketing and public relations coordinator for NDSU Distance and Continuing Education, a program of the Office of Teaching and Learning.

In more than 14 years at NDSU, Jadrny has learned a lot about the professional development needs of k-12 teachers.  In this series of posts, she intends to pass along bits of wisdom from the professional development industry.

Let’s learn together!

KeywordsK-12 Professional Development, Offer a Class, OTL Blog   Doc ID130344
OwnerLinda C.GroupIT Knowledge Base
Created2023-08-15 09:51:27Updated2023-08-31 06:30:03
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