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10 Places to Get Professional Development Hours

Telepresence used for teacher professional dev...

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It may be only January, but now is the perfect time to start scoping out those available continuing education classes for the summer. While the traditional big university classes are always an option, there are others as well. We came up with ten really good places you might want to check out if you are in need of continuing education credits. As always, check with your state’s Department of Education (DOE) to make sure the classes will count as credit toward your professional development requirements before you enroll.

1. Online

Online education and professional development classes are now offered at an all time high. Schools know that the last place teachers want to be during their summer break is in a university classroom. The flexibility of online learning lets you take the classes you need when you need them – no matter how far away you live from the school.

2. Community Colleges

Community colleges usually offer a wide range of teacher-oriented professional development classes during the summer months. While the classes rarely count toward a Master’s degree, they will, in most cases, fulfill professional development requirements. Check with your state about what subjects are eligible for credit.

American Natural History Museum by LollyKnit (

3. Museums

Whether you live in a large city or in the suburbs, chances are that your local museum has some sort of continuing education program for teachers. Many museums have realized that educators are looking for something different when it comes to classes, and they are eager to offer them. There may be additional charges for credit hours, so be sure to ask first.

4. Intermediate Units

Intermediate units are a great source of continuing education and professional development courses for teachers. They are usually very receptive to suggestions about content and will offer classes that their educators ask for. Many have reciprocal agreements with local universities so that, for an additional fee and a bit more work, the professional development credits can transfer to university credits.

5. Departments of Education

Taking a look at what your Department of Education (DOE) offers in terms of continuing education and professional development classes may not be your first thought, but many states offer low-cost or free classes for their teachers. Check your state’s DOE website for more information.

6. Aquariums

Just like museums, aquariums are now getting in on the act of offering professional development classes. Large aquariums, as well as local ones, are expanding their course offerings to meet the needs of their local teacher base.

San Diego Zoo by Corey Leopold (

7. Zoos

Have you ever spent the day exploring wildlife and conservation at the zoo? Many major zoos across the country offer teachers a chance to do just that. Whether you go with a group of teachers from your elementary school, or arrange a program to be brought to your school for professional development, using zoos as a resource is a great way to expand your own education.

8. Libraries

If you have not been to your local town library lately, you may want to stop in. Today’s libraries are seriously underfunded and in an effort to provide services their patrons need, some have started to offer continuing education credits for local educators. If there is something you would like your library to sponsor, consider asking them if they would be willing to do so.

9. Stores

Imagine shopping and then going into a separate room in the store for a professional development session? Some large craft, photography, and education stores offer them, as do smaller, local stores. Check around to see what your local businesses have to offer.

10. Local Departments of Recreation

As crazy as it sounds, even local departments of recreation are getting in on the act of offering professional development classes for teachers. From aerobics to nutrition to photography to music, the options are endless. Check out what your local department is offering this year!

State requirements for professional and continuing education credits vary widely. Make sure that the classes you plan to take are accepted by your state’s DOE before you enroll. There is nothing worse than completing a class only to find out that the hours you spent will not count toward your requirements. Make learning fun and think outside the box when it comes to getting your professional development hours.

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I have used our local water district for hours in the summer also. They have great courses that are hand on in seeing how water comes from the mountains all the way to our sinks.

Lori Archer
Lori Archer

Scholastic offers some free training as well. Check thier website to see what they have.


Thanks for all the advice! Being a new teacher to the field I enjoy all the helpful insight and tips! The article was helpful too!!

Jenifer P
Jenifer P

Thanks for this article! I had no idea!


I got a lot out of different endorsement programs. They have been A LOT of work, but I feel that everything I learned was something I could actually use in the classroom.


Go to PBS TeacherLine at You can get professional development hours and you can get graduate credit too from local and national universities.


I love learning new techniques and ideas!! We just never know if it is the "right thing" to meet the needs of one of our very special kiddos!