Expanding your professional development opportunities

Image: Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock.com

Finding adequate time and resources for ongoing professional development is a challenge for any vocation, but particularly for teachers. In this tutorial, we invite you to consider different ideas and training opportunities, including where teachers can benefit from online peer-exchange.

Easy first step: tutorials for quick reading and browsing

Through the School Education Gateway Tutorials, you get practical ideas and examples of projects that can inspire and challenge. From the value of entrepreneurship and digital competence to intercultural skills and the promotion of inclusion, cultural diversity and tolerance in education, tutorials are here for when you only have a short amount of time and want to focus on a particular topic.

Online courses for professional development

Over the last few years, online training has been revolutionised by MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses). In brief, a MOOC is an online course that is usually available free of charge to an unlimited number of participants. MOOCs are structured and timetabled, but also enable self-paced and self-directed professional development. The duration and number of activities vary from course to course. Although the courses themselves are usually free, some course providers may charge a fee for the official certification. The required weekly commitment is usually between 2 and 6 hours: teachers can enhance their practice even with 15 minutes per day!

The Teacher Academy by the School Education Gateway offers free online courses for teachers, teacher trainers and non-teaching staff involved in school education (from pre-primary up to upper secondary). The online courses engage participants through different types of materials and activities, such as videos (classroom observations, animations, interviews and screencasts), lesson plans, webinars, peer-review and sharing with peers, interacting with experts, quizzes, learning diaries and many more. Participants quickly form an online learning community and find the discussions very rewarding. They are also awarded digital badges and certificates enabling them to demonstrate their accomplishments.

Other MOOC platforms and repositories:

To know more about taking part in online courses, have a look at the self-paced mini-course “Five Strategies for Learning Online” created by the Teacher Academy. 

Getting connected and joining an online community for schools and teachers: eTwinning

Over half a million teachers have already discovered the benefits of connecting with other teachers, classrooms and schools across Europe within eTwinning.

eTwinning provides versatile opportunities for professional development. In addition to the collaborative school projects that are the heart of eTwinning, it includes numerous activities like workshops, online learning events and seminars, groups to develop knowledge and expertise on specific topics, etc. Most of the eTwinning training events are officially accredited in many of the participant countries. Find out more at the eTwinning website and in the following video.

Research shows that eTwinning does indeed have a positive impact on teachers’ professional development. Read more in this publication. eTwinning is funded by the Erasmus+ programme. 

Going abroad for a new perspective: Erasmus+

Sometimes a change of environment can help identify new skills to improve your teaching. Have you considered carrying out a teaching assignment or job shadowing, or taking part in a course in another country? The Erasmus+ Programme can support your professional development through funding of mobility activities.

Erasmus+ is the EU programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport for 2014-2020. The programme aims to boost skills and employability, as well as modernising education, training and youth work. It has a budget of €14.7 billion – a 40% increase on previous spending levels, reflecting the EU’s commitment to investing in these areas.

The Erasmus+ programme provides funding to support activities such as professional development activities abroad for school staff including courses, teaching assignments and job shadowing (Key Action 1), and Strategic Partnership projects between schools or other organisations (Key Action 2).

On the School Education Gateway you'll find three tools to get started:

  • The Course Catalogue is a repository of daily updated on-site professional development courses for school teachers and staff. In the course catalogue you'll find thousands of training offers that you can browse and search according to your interests, such as topic, country, duration, etc. See also our tutorial on how to select a teacher training course abroad.
  • The Mobility Opportunity tool is a meeting point for schools and teachers interested in hosting mobility activities and taking part in them. Schools can post their offers to host a teacher from another country, and teachers can post their own announcement and say what kind of mobility activity they would like to do abroad!
  • Visit the Strategic Partnership tool and either use the search tool to look for the right partner organisation for you, or simply browse through the existing offers.

Further information

To prepare your funding application, take a look at the following resources: