Professional Development Topics For Teachers

Last Updated on 02/09/2023 by James Barron

Table of Contents

A teacher’s job is a never-ending adventure. Teachers should continue working hard to improve themselves to give their students more opportunities to learn and develop. It is pertinent to focus on key professional development topics that will further develop one’s teaching skills. The primary topics fit into several categories, such as digital instruction, leadership, and engagement.

SEL Importance (Social-Emotional Learning)

It won’t take long for the modern educator to discover that there is a vast multitude of professional development topics for growing and learning. However, the importance of SEL (social-emotional learning) cannot be overlooked.

Social-emotional learning is ultimately about relating to the pupils. The teacher must gain a better understanding of their pupils and where they are emotionally. Doing so will allow the teacher to find a way to connect with thee pupil and provide them with additional help when necessary.

Without an emotional connection, it will be nearly impossible for the student to retain the material.

Understanding Mental Health

In many cases, teachers have to be well-rounded and capable of getting into the heads of their students. They must understand the student’s mental health at any given time. Unfortunately, some students experience difficulties inside and outside the classroom that can lead to depression, anxiety, and even more mental health issues.

Before someone can teach someone else, they have to understand that person. Understanding their mental health is vital for this purpose.

Self-Care With Adaptability

Most educators probably already understand the essence of adaptability in and out of the classroom, but understanding and applying are two entirely different things. Teachers need to be flexible in all possible scenarios.

Being able to read each unique encounter and react to it accordingly will require a keen mind. If the teacher isn’t mentally sound, they will never be able to teach their student effectively. Self-care is essential.

When a teacher is healthy and well, they’ll be able to excel in the classroom and their students will benefit greatly.

Reaching Traumatised Students

Teachers will encounter all types of students from different backgrounds and cultures. Unfortunately, this means that they’re likely going to deal with pupils who’ve experienced emotional trauma. It could be the loss of a loved one, the loss of a pet, or even abuse. Regardless, the teacher must be able to adapt to teach these troubled students. It is not always essential to understand what caused the trauma, but it is vital to identify that the pupil is traumatised.

In many cases, it is best to assume that each pupil has experienced trauma. Typically, most have so this will be more effective than thinking that most have not.

Holding Students Accountable Online

Online learning is becoming the norm. It brings a unique set of problems that teachers will have to contend with. One of the biggest problems is the fact that the teacher will have difficulty holding their students accountable. Thankfully, the best strategies in this area are the proven techniques that work well in the classroom. For instance, teachers have to work hard to show their students that what they’re doing is worthwhile and meaningful.

It isn’t always about punishments. Instead, the teacher should encourage the student and praise them when they do well. It is also important to get the families involved so the encouragement can continue once the stream has ended.

Technology Accessibility

Some students learn differently than others, while some have physical issues that hinder their ability to learn. Teachers have to assess these issues with online learning becoming a vital component of modern education. To address these issues, the teacher must take steps to improve the accessibility of their digital classroom.

They’ll need to ensure equity so all students can learn equally. It may be possible to alter existing classroom materials to ensure that they’re suitable for students with physical challenges. Regardless, steps must be taken to accommodate all students.

Create Fun Lessons

Whether the teacher is dealing with young pupils or senior school students, creating fun lessons can make a world of difference. With fun, engaging lessons, the student is more likely to pay attention and retain the information. Thankfully, it can be easy for teachers to create fun lessons. They can learn using digital games or group activities.

A playful classroom will prove to be a more effective classroom. Besides using digital games, teachers can also take advantage of role-playing activities to force their students to pay attention and learn.

Differentiated Instruction

Since each student is unique, one teaching technique is not going to help every student. Instead, it is vital to rely on differentiated instructional techniques to educate all types of students simultaneously. A teacher who delves deeper into this topic will learn how to reach all students in the classroom and in the online classroom.

First, the teacher will gain the skills necessary to gauge a student’s needs and pinpoint their unique learning style. Then, they will find out how to develop activities that will cater to the student’s specific requirements. Suffice to say, learning the skill of differentiated instruction will make the teacher more diverse and effective.

More Classroom Management

It is common for teachers to manage classrooms of 20 or 30 students. For new teachers, it can be very difficult to manage a classroom of this size. They’ll need to develop skills that can help keep their students in line and engaged. With experience, this will become easier. Nevertheless, there is always room to grow and improve in this area.

Once a teacher has gained the skills needed to manage their classroom, they’ll have more success educating all of their students.

Professional Learning Communities

Teachers can only do so much on their own. Therefore, they should think about working with others as part of a Professional Learning Community. By working with other teachers, it’ll be easy to brainstorm and come up with new ways to teach. Teachers will improve themselves together. Using PLCs to learn from other teachers is a good way to maximise your success in the classroom.

Culturally Responsive Teaching

Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) is an essential pedagogical approach that seeks to bridge the diverse experiences of students with the educational environment in a way that recognises and values their unique cultural backgrounds. At the heart of CRT lies the commitment to understanding and acknowledging cultural biases, both overt and covert, that might permeate classroom practices, instructional materials, and teacher-student interactions. By actively addressing these biases, educators can cultivate a learning space where every student feels respected and seen. Furthermore, by weaving diverse perspectives into the curriculum, teachers not only provide a richer and more comprehensive view of subjects, but they also empower students from various backgrounds to see themselves as integral parts of the academic narrative. This inclusivity fosters a sense of belonging, promotes higher engagement, and nurtures an environment where every student can thrive.

Culturally Responsive Teaching Resources

Culturally Responsive Teaching: Theory, Research, and Practice by Geneva Gay

Geneva Gay is renowned for her work in the field of education, particularly on CRT. In this book, she explores the characteristics and principles of culturally responsive teaching, providing evidence from research and practice. The book offers practical suggestions and insights into how educators can create an inclusive classroom environment that caters to students from diverse backgrounds.

The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children by Gloria Ladson-Billings

While the book specifically highlights teaching African American children, Gloria Ladson-Billings’ insights into the practices of successful teachers are universally applicable. She delves into the importance of understanding cultural reference points of all students and provides a robust framework for implementing CRT. By presenting real-life examples, Ladson-Billings gives readers a practical understanding of how culturally responsive pedagogy can be achieved.

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education by Christopher Emdin

Christopher Emdin’s book provides a fresh perspective on urban education, focusing on the teaching challenges faced by “White folks in the hood.” Emdin introduces the concept of “Reality Pedagogy,” a unique teaching method designed to cater to the diverse needs of urban youth. While the book is centred around urban education, its teachings on recognising biases, understanding students’ cultural contexts, and creating an engaging, relevant curriculum are valuable for all educators.

The Centre for Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning

This centre is dedicated entirely to the advancement of CRT. It offers a plethora of resources, from professional development workshops to publications, all designed to assist educators in understanding and implementing culturally responsive pedagogical practices. The website also contains valuable articles, research, and book suggestions related to CRT.



Edutopia is a trusted source for educators worldwide. While the site covers a range of educational topics, it has a dedicated section on Culturally Responsive Teaching. Through articles, videos, and other resources, it offers practical insights, strategies, and real-life examples of how to integrate CRT in modern classrooms.


Learning for Justice (formally known as Teaching Tolerance)

Sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Learning for Justice (formerly Teaching Tolerance) offers free resources to educators with the aim of fostering school environments that are inclusive and multicultural. Their materials cover a broad spectrum, including lesson plans, teaching strategies, and professional development tools, all of which are designed to help educators practice and promote socially just principles in their classrooms.


Inclusive Education

Inclusive education stands as a testament to the belief that every student, irrespective of their abilities, challenges, or needs, has an intrinsic right to a quality education within mainstream settings. It transcends the traditional confines of academic instruction, advocating for a comprehensive approach where individual differences are not just accommodated but celebrated. In an inclusive educational environment, barriers to learning are identified and removed, ensuring that curricula, teaching methodologies, and school cultures are adapted to cater to each student’s unique needs. More than just a teaching strategy, inclusive education embodies a philosophy: it challenges the conventional norms and biases, fostering a culture where diversity is seen as a strength and where every student, regardless of their background or challenges, is given equal opportunities to thrive and succeed.

Inclusive Education Resources

The Inclusive Classroom: Strategies for Effective Differentiated Instruction by Margo A. Mastropieri and Thomas E. Scruggs

This book offers an extensive look into inclusive educational strategies, focusing on how to differentiate instruction for a variety of learners in the general education classroom. It combines research-backed practices with real-world examples, providing teachers with practical tools and methods to ensure all students can access and benefit from the curriculum.

One Without the Other: Stories of Unity Through Diversity and Inclusion by Shelley Moore

Shelley Moore’s work is both personal and professional, weaving together stories and examples of inclusive education in practice. Moore advocates for the benefits of inclusion not just for students with disabilities but for all students. The book beautifully captures the essence of unity through diversity, emphasising the importance of including all voices in the educational conversation.

Inclusion in Action: Practical Strategies to Modify Your Curriculum by Nicole Eredics

Nicole Eredics is a specialist in inclusive education, and her book serves as a practical guide for educators looking to modify and adapt their curriculum to meet the diverse needs of all students. It offers concrete strategies, modification ideas, and real-life classroom examples, making it a valuable resource for teachers seeking to create a truly inclusive classroom environment.

Each of these books provides a unique perspective on inclusive education, offering both theoretical foundations and actionable strategies to ensure every student is given the opportunity to succeed.

The Inclusive Class

This website is a resource hub for teachers, parents, and advocates seeking information on inclusive education. It offers a compilation of articles, tips, videos, and other educational materials that emphasise the importance of including all students in the mainstream classroom. The site also provides practical advice for teachers looking to adapt their teaching methods to cater to diverse needs.


CAST: Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

CAST is at the forefront of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) movement, a framework aimed at enhancing the educational experience to cater to the diverse needs of all students. UDL is about designing curriculum materials and activities to ensure they are accessible to everyone, and CAST provides a plethora of resources, research, and tools related to this.


Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

CEC is a professional association dedicated to improving the educational success of children and youth with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. Their website offers resources, publications, and professional development opportunities centred on inclusive education and best practices for teaching students with diverse needs.


Assessment Strategies

Assessment strategies play a pivotal role in the educational landscape, acting as tools to gauge student understanding and performance. Recognising that students have varied learning styles and strengths; contemporary education has evolved to incorporate a plethora of diverse assessment methods. Traditional pen-and-paper tests are now complemented with formative assessments, project-based evaluations, oral presentations, and digital portfolios. Peer assessments and self-reflection tools provide opportunities for students to analyse their own learning, while open-ended questions and case studies encourage critical thinking. Incorporating such a diverse array of assessment techniques ensures that educators can capture a holistic picture of a student’s capabilities, allowing for a more tailored approach to instruction and feedback. This multifaceted approach to evaluation not only caters to individual student strengths but also fosters a more inclusive and comprehensive educational environment.

Assessment Strategy Resources

Designing and Using Tools for Educational Assessment by Madhabi Chatterji

Chatterji’s book dives deep into the processes of designing, using, and interpreting educational assessment tools. While it addresses general assessment strategies, it underscores the importance of inclusivity, ensuring that all students’ abilities are fairly and accurately gauged.

Grading Exceptional and Struggling Learners by Lee Ann Jung, Thomas R. Guskey, and Douglas Reeves

This book addresses the often challenging topic of grading students with diverse abilities. It offers practical solutions for educators who are seeking fair and equitable grading practices that reflect the true abilities and potential of all students, including those with exceptional needs or those who might be struggling. The authors present a framework that emphasises fairness, accuracy, specificity, and timeliness in grading practices.

Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA)

AQA offers a variety of resources related to assessments. While they provide information on many examination topics, they also have dedicated resources and guidelines to support inclusive assessment practices.


The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations, and Assessment (CCEA)

CCEA focuses on curriculum, examinations, and assessment in Northern Ireland. They offer resources and guidelines on inclusive assessment strategies, ensuring educators can cater to the diverse needs of all students.


STEM/STEAM Integration

STEM/STEAM Integration emphasises the holistic inclusion of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics into daily curricula, fostering interdisciplinary understanding and real-world problem-solving skills. Rather than treating these subjects as separate entities, STEAM integration looks to the interconnectedness of these disciplines, cultivating creativity, critical thinking, and innovation in students. By harnessing the synergy of STEM with the creative flair of the arts, educators not only deepen content understanding but also prepare students for the multifaceted challenges of the modern world.

STEM/STEAM Integration resources

STEM Lesson Essentials: Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics by Jo Anne Vasquez, Cary Sneider, and Michael Comer

This book provides practical insights for educators looking to integrate STEM concepts into their classrooms. It offers hands-on lesson plans and a clear understanding of the importance of interdisciplinary learning.

STEAM Makers: Fostering Creativity and Innovation in the Elementary Classroom by Jacie Maslyk

A guide that champions the integration of the Arts with traditional STEM disciplines, this book presents strategies, activities, and real-world examples to inspire educators in creating a maker-friendly STEAM environment.

The STEM Shift: A Guide for School Leaders by Ann Myers and Jill Berkowicz

Targeting educational leaders, this book outlines the transformative power of STEM education and provides a roadmap for integrating STEM at a school-wide level.


An initiative of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), this site promotes the integration of Art into traditional STEM education. It offers resources, research, and advocacy tools to push the STEAM movement forward.


Teach Engineering

This digital library provides educators with a vast collection of STEM curriculum materials. It’s a hub for lesson plans, activities, and project ideas that center on engineering but often incorporate elements from all STEM/STEAM disciplines.



Eco-friendly and Sustainable Teaching

Eco-friendly and Sustainable Teaching is an approach that centers on fostering environmental awareness and emphasising sustainability practices within the educational realm. As global challenges like climate change, deforestation, and plastic pollution become increasingly prominent, integrating these topics into the curriculum is pivotal. By infusing lessons with discussions on ecological footprint, resource conservation, and sustainable solutions, educators not only broaden students’ understanding of the natural world but also empower them to be proactive, environmentally-conscious citizens. This approach melds academic learning with a deep-seated respect for the planet, ensuring that the next generation is equipped with both the knowledge and values to champion sustainable futures.

Eco-friendly and Sustainable Teaching Resources

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

While not strictly a teaching guide, this influential book discusses the importance of reconnecting children with nature. Louv highlights the benefits of outdoor education and provides insights that educators can integrate into their teaching philosophies.

Ecoliterate: How Educators Are Cultivating Emotional, Social, and Ecological Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, Lisa Bennett, and Zenobia Barlow

This book blends emotional and social intelligence with ecological knowledge, offering educators a roadmap to create a curriculum that fosters an in-depth understanding of the environment and our relationship to it.

Green Education Foundation (GEF)

GEF is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a sustainable future through education. Their site offers free sustainability education resources, lesson plans, and programs for educators at all grade levels.


Teaching Tolerance – Environmental Justice

While Teaching Tolerance covers a range of social justice topics, they also have materials on environmental justice, connecting the dots between sustainability, equity, and education.


Even more Professional development topics for teachers

There are many other professional development topics, so many that we picked our favourites to focus on but here is a list of more pd topics for teachers:

·      Project-Based Learning

·      Flipped Classroom Techniques

·      Literacy Across the Curriculum

·      Growth Mindset in the Classroom

·      Integrating Global Education

·      Cross-Curricular Teaching Strategies

·      Digital Literacy and Cyber Safety

·      Restorative Justice Practices

·      Scaffolding for Diverse Learners

·      Mindfulness in the Classroom

·      Game-Based Learning

·      Understanding the Neurology of Learning

·      Effective Feedback Strategies

·      Building Student Resilience and Grit

·      Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

·      Parent-Teacher Partnerships

·      Educational Apps and Tools

·      Peer Observations and Feedback

·      Ethical Considerations in the Modern Classroom

·      Collaborative Learning Strategies


In the dynamic landscape of education, teachers stand as the fulcrum, constantly adapting and evolving to meet the diverse needs of their students. From understanding the emotional and mental states of their students to incorporating technology effectively and embracing eco-conscious methodologies, the journey of an educator is one of continuous growth. It’s clear that while academic knowledge remains pivotal, an effective teaching environment is cultivated by an amalgamation of socio-emotional understanding, cultural awareness, adaptability, and innovative techniques. As teachers delve into resources and subjects such as SEL, differentiated instruction, technology accessibility, and sustainable teaching, they not only enrich their pedagogical toolkits but also ensure an inclusive, dynamic, and responsive classroom. This journey, underpinned by dedication and lifelong learning, ensures that every student, irrespective of their background or challenges, finds an environment conducive to growth, creativity, and holistic development. Most importantly, you can share your techniques and empower other educators to create a new generation of leaders.


What are the 5 P’s of professional development?

The 5 P’s of professional development encompass Purpose (identifying long-term career goals and passions), Planning (setting and strategising short-term and long-term objectives), Practice (continuous learning and skill refinement), Persistence (maintaining commitment despite challenges), and Performance (regularly evaluating achievements and seeking feedback). These principles guide an individual’s growth and advancement in their career. Each P provides a crucial step in the ongoing journey of professional self-improvement.

What are the 3 C’s of professional development?

The 3 C’s of professional development typically refer to Continuous Learning (always seeking new knowledge and skills), Collaboration (working effectively with others and leveraging collective expertise), and Change Management (adapting to and leading changes in the professional landscape). These core principles emphasise the importance of adaptability, teamwork, and lifelong learning in one’s career. Embracing the 3 C’s ensures a dynamic and evolving professional journey.

What are the 8 principles of professional development?

The 8 principles of professional development provide a comprehensive framework for career growth, though the exact principles can vary by source. Generally, they might encompass Purpose, Planning, Practice, Persistence, Performance, Continuous Learning, Collaboration, and Change Management. These principles emphasise goal-setting, skill acquisition, resilience, teamwork, adaptability, and self-assessment in one’s professional journey.

What are the 5 E’s of professionalism?

The 5 E’s of professionalism, often used in various professional contexts, typically refer to Ethics, Excellence, Engagement, Efficiency, and Effectiveness. These principles highlight the importance of moral conduct, delivering high-quality work, active participation, optimising resources, and achieving desired outcomes. Together, they guide individuals in maintaining and elevating their professional standards and behaviour.

What are the 4 stages of the CPD cycle?

The 4 stages of the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) cycle are Reflection (considering one’s learning needs), Planning (deciding what and how to learn), Action (undertaking the learning activity), and Evaluation (assessing the value of the learning). This cycle promotes ongoing growth by encouraging professionals to continuously reflect on and improve their skills. By repeating the cycle, professionals ensure their knowledge and abilities remain updated and relevant.

What is CPD technique?

The CPD (Continuing Professional Development) technique refers to a structured approach to maintaining and enhancing one’s professional skills and knowledge. It involves a cycle of reflection, planning, action, and evaluation to ensure continuous growth and adaptation to evolving industry standards. This ongoing learning process allows professionals to remain competent and effective in their roles.

Author Profile

James Barron
My first experience of teaching was in 2016, when I was asked to
deliver a talk to a group of 16-year-olds on what it was like to start
your own business. I immediately knew I wanted to become more
involved in teaching but I didn’t know where to start as I had not
previously considered a career in education. A few weeks later I
agreed to teach a class of Chinese students from the Shanghai
Technical Institute of Electronics and Information, who had travelled
to the UK to learn English and Software Engineering, after that I was
hooked. Within the next few years, I taught hundreds of students of
many different nationalities, aged from 16 to 60, and from
levels 2 to 6. I focused my time teaching with Bath University and
Bath College for several more years until I felt a change was in order.
For the last few years, I have taught remotely with several private
training organisations, provided dedicated one to one coaching
sessions, provided consultancy on teaching and assessment practices
and written about my experiences as a teacher. I plan to continue
with my current activities for the foreseeable future but I’m always
open to new teaching experiences.

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