When to Offer a K-12 Professional Development Class
Finding the best time to offer a professional development class for teachers seems pretty straightforward. Really, you can offer a class at any time throughout the year, but finding the best time to offer your class has a lot to do with the number of participants you are able to attract. Let’s discuss some of the issues to think about regarding the timing of offering your class.
First, think about the best timing for you. When will you have the most time to spare? What day or time is your energy-level at its best? Then, begin thinking about the time frame that is best for your audience.
If you are wondering who can offer a k-12 professional development class, read more here.
Here is a little information about each of the semesters in which you could offer a class.
This is the start of the school year and, as a result, it can often be a busy time for k-12 teachers. We definitely see a slow-down in class registrations during this time of the year. Don’t let this discourage you from offering a class during this semester, though. There are a lot of teachers who look for classes but find a limited selection, which can account for a portion of the lower enrollment.
Some classes are offered each semester. Instructors who offer their class each semester know there may be a drop in participants during this semester, but find that it is still worthwhile to offer the class. Each instructor has their own threshold for the number of participants required to make the class successful. For example, in one class two students may be just fine, but in a class with a lot of discussion boards, two students may not generate adequate discussion. How many students does your class require?
Some classes require teachers practice new techniques. Fall semester is a great time to implement new techniques and compare previous years’ experiences. If this is a requirement for your class, fall might be the perfect time to offer your class.
Fall semester is a great time to implement new techniques and compare previous years’ experiences.
Consider what your topic is. Book studies, coaching clinics for spring sports, and teacher-leader trainings are examples of classes where fall semester is great timing. If you are interested in offering a class for fall semester, try offering a start date after the busyness of the first few weeks of school and finish before the busyness of the holiday season. If you have not offered your class during fall semester before, it might be time to give it a try.
Class offerings and registrations both begin to pick up in spring semester. This is a time when some teachers are pushing to complete their credits for a pay scale advancement because pay scale decisions are often made in the summer. In addition, many teachers want to finish their classes for their license renewal so they can enjoy their summer without taking any classes.
Spring is a great time to offer a class, though we suggest you structure your class so it starts a week or so after school resumes from the winter break and ensure your class ends before the last few weeks of school.
...we suggest you structure your class so it starts a week or so after school resumes from the winter break and ensure your class ends before the last few weeks of school.
Now that teachers have had their students for half the year, they may be more aware of areas they need additional training in. Offering trainings for working with struggling students, behaviors in the classroom, and high performing students are great examples of topics that may be useful in spring semester.
If you haven’t considered offering a class in spring semester, consider if your class might be appropriate for spring semester.
Summer is, by far, the busiest time for professional development registrations. This is obviously when K-12 teachers have the most time for their professional development. Course offerings are abundant and offer the most diversity in topics.
This is a great time to offer a class. You may find that you have more time and energy in the summer. Our office offers a catalog of summer classes that is mailed in mid-April. If you want your class publicized in our catalog, you will need to do some advanced planning as our class submission deadline is usually the end of February. If you do not need or want your class publicized in our brochure, summer class approvals can be submitted at any time.
If you do not need or want your class publicized in our brochure, summer class approvals can be submitted at any time.
The only down-side to offering a class in summer is that teachers do not have a class to practice their techniques on and or make observations of. Many classes can be structured so that this is not an issue. For example, you could create a two-part class, learning about the technique in summer, and practicing the technique in fall.
Overall, summer is probably the best time to offer a class.
Day and Time
Which semester to offer your class is not the only time frame to think about, you must also think about the mode of instruction in which your class is offered. For face-to-face classes, you must also think about the day and time your class will regularly be held. For some, Saturdays and Sundays work really well, but for others, immediately after school lets out is their best bet. Yet others may find that a class held later in the evening might work best for them. You need to know who your target audience is. If it is your school only, what do your colleagues prefer? A district offering may have teachers with preferences that are different from your school. If your class is open to teachers statewide or even nationwide, what days or times might work best for all of your participants?
I know, this seems like a lot to think about, but once you know what timing is best for your class, you can stick with that time and have one less thing to think about the next time you seek approval for the class.
Remember, if you are new to teaching a k-12 professional development class, it may take a few semesters to build up your participant numbers. There are a lot of reasons for this, but that will have to be the subject of a separate blog post. Read more about what to think about when designing a K-12 professional development class.
About the Author
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!