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7 Types of Cost-Effective Professional Development for Teachers

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Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher. ~ Japanese proverb

One of the most difficult things for school districts to do is to manage their budgets while delivering quality education for students and professional learning experiences for teachers. It’s essential to save money while still providing professional development that gives educators the tools and resources they need to get to positive outcomes for their students.

At Alludo, it’s our mission to deliver effective, accessible professional learning that’s affordable for school districts at every level. Here are seven types of professional development for teachers to try in your district.

Table of Contents

  1. Why Is It Important to Save on the Cost of Professional Development for Teachers?
    1. Schools Have Limited Resources
    2. Professional Development is Mandatory in Every State
    3. Professional Development is Necessary to Achieve District Goals
    4. Professional Development Plays a Key Role in Reducing Teacher Turnover
  2. 7 Cost-Effective Professional Development Options to Try
    1. Online Learning
    2. Microlearning Activities
    3. Gamified Learning
    4. Peer Mentoring
    5. Learner-Driven Models
    6. Peer Support & Interaction
    7. Classroom Observation
  3. Alludo’s Take

Why Is It Important to Save on the Cost of Professional Development for Teachers?

Let’s start with a review of why it is essential for school districts to save money where they can on the cost of professional development for teachers.

Schools Have Limited Resources

For most school districts, resources are limited. They may struggle to find money to hire new educators, purchase necessary equipment and supplies, and to pay for professional development. 

Because it can be difficult to find money in the budget to pay for required teacher PD, school districts are always on the lookout for cost-effective ways to provide teachers with the training they need to be effective in the classroom.

Professional Development is Mandatory in Every State

Every state in the US requires some amount of teacher professional development to maintain their certifications. It’s essential for teachers to earn their professional development hours and meet those requirements.

It’s not an option to opt out of required professional development. School districts must find a way to provide teachers with the continuing education they need to excel in the classroom.

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Professional Development is Necessary to Achieve District Goals

State professional development requirements are only one part of the professional development picture. Every school district has goals related to student achievement, including things like increasing graduation and college enrollment rates and improving test scores.

The only way to meet your district goals is to provide teachers with opportunities to learn and grow, giving them the tools necessary to engage their students and in turn, to help students do well on standardized tests.

Professional Development Plays a Key Role in Reducing Teacher Turnover

Teacher turnover is a significant problem across the United States and keeping teachers happy is one of the best ways we know to reduce teacher turnover.

Professional development, especially in a learning environment that gives educators a voice and a choice in what they learn, is an essential part of any plan to retain teachers and ensure their professional and personal satisfaction on the job.

why should school districts save money on pd

7 Cost-Effective Professional Development Options to Try

Alludo provides customizable professional development for teachers that is both cost-effective and learner driven. Our model incorporates every one of the affordable PD options we will outline in this post.

Here are seven cost-effective professional development options to try in your school district.

#1: Online Learning

Online learning is both less expensive and more effective than traditional, in-person professional learning. With the latter, teachers must carve time out of their personal lives to travel to professional development classes. It requires them to pay for transportation and they don’t have the flexibility to take classes on a schedule that works for them.

Asynchronous online instruction is affordable for school districts as well. The right learning environment can enable school districts to customize learning to meet state and district goals while still being cost-effective and easy to scale. Teachers can complete online course modules at their convenience, with the result being higher teacher engagement and better student outcomes.

District wide PD goals

#2: Microlearning Activities

One of the hallmarks of Alludo’s professional development model is the incorporation of microlearning activities. Microlearning is one of the most effective ways to put learners at the center of professional development because, with short lessons and activities, teachers can easily fit their PD requirements into their already-busy schedules.

Microlearning breaks PD requirements into small, easy-to-finish mini-courses that encourage participation and enable learners to fit professional learning activities in between classes, grading assignments, or meeting with parents. We have found that educators are far more likely to complete their district and state requirements when they can do it in short bursts that don’t take away from their personal lives or time with their families.

#3: Gamified Learning

Gamified learning takes effective teacher professional development and turns it into an activity that’s fun and enjoyable for educators while still allowing them to acquire new skills that will improve their performance in the classroom and help their students. For example, Alludo’s model rewards educators with badges and points. They can trade in the points to get real-world rewards, which in turn, encourages them to stay engaged with professional development.

Gamification is an effective way to increase teacher engagement because it allows them to compete with themselves or their peers. We find that educators are more likely to participate and complete engaging professional development activities for teachers than activities that they see as uninspired or dull.

#4: Peer Mentoring

One of the most crucial elements of teacher retention is giving new educators the support and encouragement they need. While there is undeniably a need for new teachers to learn classroom skills and study a variety of pedagogical techniques, they also need personal and professional support to help them adapt to the classroom and engage their students.

Peer mentoring isn’t expensive but it is enormously effective when it comes to providing much-needed support and advice to teachers at every level. While teachers who are new to the classroom may be most in need of mentoring, even experienced teachers can benefit from talking to a peer and getting guidance about how to deal with complex situations on the job.

#5: Learner-Driven Models

Teachers are far more likely to participate enthusiastically in professional learning if they feel that they have a voice and a choice in what they learn. It’s for that reason that we encourage educational services leadership, school district administrators, and principals to solicit teacher feedback. Giving teachers the opportunity to explain what they need from professional development – and then providing it – is a crucial element of success.

Alludo’s model is learner-centered, designed to help learners and learning leaders create personalized pathways that map to each learner’s interests and skill level. We also build in the opportunity for teachers to choose elective learning activities once they have completed their state and district requirements. We find that this combination is the most likely to lead to a reduction in teacher turnover and improve student outcomes.

learner driven models

#6: Peer Support & Interaction

We’ve already talked about peer mentoring, but it’s equally as important to provide teachers with the opportunity to give and receive support in a more informal setting. While it’s not technically going to meet state or district PD requirements, teacher support and interaction on a peer-to-peer basis can provide ongoing camaraderie and give teachers an opportunity to share classroom experiences, strategies, and tools. It’s also worth noting that in our survey, teachers ranked collaboration as the most effective form of PD.

The Alludo model encourages teachers to share their experiences. Learning administrators can require evidence of learning, and examining this evidence can reveal what teachers have learned and what they still need support on. With gamification, they have the opportunity to engage in healthy competition if they choose. It’s up to your district to encourage interactions outside of the classroom. If you encourage teachers to share their thoughts and feelings with one another, you’re likely to see an increase in teacher retention and an improvement in student outcomes – and at very little expense to your district.

#7: Classroom Observation

When teachers learn new pedagogies and classroom strategies, they may need help taking what they learn and putting it into practice with their students. That’s where classroom observation comes in. Observation can be done at very little or no cost, and it can help teachers put what they learn in professional development to practical use.

Classroom observation can be done in a way that is minimally disruptive, with teachers understanding that the goal is to help them connect with their students and deliver the best possible outcomes for them. Best of all, it can be used in conjunction with any (or all) of the cost-effective professional development options we’ve listed here.

cost effective pd options

Alludo’s Take

Our mindset at Alludo is that teacher professional development can (and should) be cost-effective, learner-centered, and scalable. We do all three by focusing on three key elements that drive our mission:

  1. Asynchronous online learning. Asynchronous online learning is instruction that teachers can pursue on their own schedule. Because our Alludo is accessible online and from any device, teachers can participate at any time that’s convenient for them. We’ve found that asynchronous learning drives participation, helping the school districts we partner with to reach their professional development goals.
  2. Microlearning activities. Microlearning is something we’ve already mentioned here. Like asynchronous learning, it increases engagement and participation by making professional learning convenient for teachers. Both teachers and school administrators can complete micro-activities and courses easily and quickly. The Alludo Content Catalog has thousands of microlearning activities spanning every topic an educator might need to be successful. 
  3. Gamification. Gamified learning rewards teachers with both in-game achievements such as badges, as well as with points that they can trade in for gift cards and other rewards. It’s another way that we make learning fun, and you’d be surprised how quickly gamification can ignite a culture of learning throughout your entire district!

The Alludo model has been proven to increase teacher engagement and help school districts reach their goals.

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It’s Time to Implement Cost-Effective PD that Delivers Results for Your District

Professional development is necessary, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be expensive. In fact, some of the characteristics that make professional learning most appealing to teachers are also the things that can be done affordably in any district. Alludo has all of the elements that make up effective PD for your district at a fraction of the cost of what you are likely spending today.

Experience personalized learning for all levels of educators with a free trial of Alludo’s professional development platform. You’ll enjoy:

  • Hundreds of core topics
  • Asynchronous microlearning activities
  • Timely and specific feedback
  • Analytics that show learning impact
  • Access anytime, anywhere

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