Early in my career, when I was in the classroom teaching, I was busy just preparing for my lesson I was teaching. I struggled to stay on top of everything going on in education. I used to think, “Let someone else worry about all that other stuff!” Was I ever wrong! Luckily, a very wise experienced teacher told me that I needed to pay attention to the peripheral developments that were going on in education. They told me it would make a difference someday in my teaching and my educational career. Did it ever! No truer words and better advice had been given to me that has made so much of a difference over the years.
I started subscribing to some educational listeners, some newsletters, and key updates from reliable sources like universities’ education departments and professional organizations. By doing so I realized just how many changes were taking place around the educational world on a regular basis. I also found some amazing opportunities that I was able to take advantage of and allowed me to have incredible experiences. I have traveled to Japan, Brasil (and no this is NOT a typo, Brasil is how native Brasilians would like it spelled.) and England to study the educational system in those countries. I was only one step away from being awarded the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST) and winning $10,000. And one of the most helpful items I learned about was all the free graduate classes you can take. Frequently, I have been able to take many graduate level college classes, for free, to work on a master’s degree and to renew my Indiana Teaching License.
Indiana Department of Education
First the nuts and bolts for keeping up on important educational topics like the Academic Standards, key current topics in education, and important legislative developments that will impact you as a teacher and your teaching. I subscribe to the Indiana Department of Education’s weekly update. This will give you an enormous amount of current, vital, and relevant information that if you do not subscribe to this update, you will never know until after the fact. Many times, by the time you are aware of the information it is too late to give any input or apply for the grants. You can subscribe to the IDOE Weekly Update here: Click here to receive Weekly Updates from the Indiana Department of Education. Here is an example of this week’s updates from the IDOE. IDOE Weekly Update for April 21, 2023.
Another great resource for current educational topics is Chalkbeat. This is a daily very brief synopsis of current and important topics for education. You can subscribe to Chalkbeat for FREE. It comes to the email address you use to sign-up with, every weekday. Subscribe to the Chalkbeat Weekday Newsletter here.
Center of Excellence in Leadership and Learning
One of the best resources for free college classes being offered around all of Indiana currently is the Center of Excellence in Leadership and Learning (CELL at UIndy). CELL at UIndy is currently offering MANY grants to help improve teaching across Indiana. They have programs to help teachers get certified to teach Dual Credit Classes, English as a New Language credentialing, S.T.E.M. Cadres, Literacy Cadres, Early College High School programs, Rural Early College Network programs, and Special Education Credentialing opportunities which include Exceptional Children: Mild Intervention certification. All these opportunities can be done at little to no cost to the participant while they are still in their current teaching position and earning a salary! Find out more about all of CELL at UIndy opportunities here: CELL at UIndy Strategic Education Initiatives. You can sign up for their newsletter here: CELL at UIndy Newsletter.
Indiana General Assembly
For legislative bills that deal with education you can go right to the source, which is what I prefer. I go to the Indiana General Assembly search website and search for legislation dealing with education. All you do is Click Here for the Indiana General Assembly search website and type the word education in the “Build Your Search” box. It will quickly list all the current legislation being considered that deals with education. If you wish just a brief overview of key educational bills you can use the ISTA Legislative Bill Watch website here or other similar legislative bill watch sites like NPR’s Education Legislation articles you can find here. The only issue you might have with sites like ISTA and NPR are their bias and reporting from a particular point of view.
Now on to the much more fun and exciting opportunities for teachers. How do you get these opportunities you ask? It is easy. Just subscribe to the right newsletters, listservs, and updates. For instance, a friend of mine, Jill Woerner, is the Director of Educational Outreach at AFS USA. You can sign up for their educator information at: AFSUSA.org/educators/ to learn about and explore International Opportunities for Educators, excellent classroom activities, and a variety of lesson plans. You can also peruse the AFS-USA Blogs and find out quickly what opportunities are available for educators.
There are some excellent opportunities for teachers to be recognized for the outstanding teaching they are doing with their students. Programs like the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).
If you become an Indiana State Finalist and are chosen by the national committee, you get to meet the President of the United States and receive $10,000! It is a great honor to be a finalist and even greater honor to say you are a PAEMST Award Winner!
You can also become a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT). This is an excellent way to improve your teaching skills.
You could receive a Fulbright Memorial Fund Scholarship, like I did to study the education system in Japan! You can find out more about this program and many other scholarship and international study opportunities from the Institute of International Education (iie) here.
You can apply for a Fulbright Program to bring global awareness to your classroom and study how education works around the world. These programs allow K – 12 Teachers to connect with countries around the world. Find out more about these excellent opportunities from the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Exchange Programs here.
This is just a partial list of all the wonderful programs that exist for teachers. These are ways that teachers can expand their knowledge and abilities while learning and changing how they think and approach teaching. The best part of most of these programs are that they are FREE or very low cost for teachers!
Finally, if you are looking for professional development, college coursework opportunities, or interesting programs for teachers, there are so many possibilities. Check out my monthly newsletter for some of the possibilities from various professional organizations, Indiana Educational Service Centers, universities, and other amazing math and science opportunities for teachers. You can sign up for my newsletter here.