Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff
You won’t find a more motivated bunch than teachers. Putting in endless after-school hours sponsoring clubs, hosting study sessions, grading papers, trying to plan lessons their students will love, and getting in their professional development hours, there’s nothing they won’t take on!
The flipside? Teachers are also some of the most underpaid professionals in the United States.
The question is, how can you get a jump on summer teacher training without breaking the bank?
Check out our list of free teacher PD you can work on during your summer vacation, whether it’s from the comfort of your own home or poolside with free hotel Wi-Fi!
How is online teacher PD structured?
The majority of these courses are either partially or entirely self-paced, some with deadlines, and others without. If you’re a procrastinator or have a hard time self-motivating, try a course with deadlines.
Another factor to keep in mind is whether or not you’ll need a certificate of completion to show your admin if you’re trying to redeem your online course for PD hours.
While all of the PD on our list is free, most of them offer the option to receive a certificate of completion for a relatively small fee (except for Edpuzzle and Google, which provide you with free certificates).
So why do you have to pay for the certificate sometimes? Because a human on the other end of the internet will need to grade and evaluate your work.
As you take a look at the list of courses, check how much time and work they involve to see if it’s something that will be easy for you to commit to during your free time.
Once you’ve set some goals about what you’d like to accomplish and the timeframe you’d like to complete it in, you can dive into your free PD!
The free online learning platform, Alison, features a section dedicated to education courses, perfect for teachers on a budget (and who among us isn’t). It’s super easy to sign up (you can do it via Facebook, Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn or Yahoo, or create your own account) and then you’ve got access to Alison’s 40 education courses!
Some of the most popular include Growth Mindsets for Teachers and Learners, Working With Students With Special Educational Needs, and Fundamentals of Storytelling in Education.
There are also various diploma courses (guaranteed to impress your admin), like the Diploma in Children’s Studies or the Diploma in Educational Psychology.
2. Class Central
This search engine for online courses is an excellent hub of MOOCs. What are MOOCS, you ask?
The acronym stands for massive open online courses, which allow you to enroll in courses offered by prestigious universities and organizations totally for free!
Search Class Central’s database for keywords like teacher training, and you’ll find courses like SEL for Students: A Path to Social-Emotional Well-Being offered by the University of Colorado Boulder, or Advancing Learning through Evidence-Based STEM Teaching from Vanderbilt University.
This is a great place to start hunting for your summer teacher PD!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know how important coding is. Students who learn to code have more and better career opportunities, and schools are finally starting to take notice.
The cool thing about Code.org is that not only are they dedicated to promoting computer science programs in schools, but they’re also concerned with increasing access to coding for girls and minorities.
They offer a free online course for teachers called Teaching Computer Science Fundamentals, which doesn’t require any prior knowledge of computer science.
All you need to do is sign up via Google, Facebook or Microsoft or create your own account, and away you go. It’s a great way to get the fundamentals in another subject area that’s in desperate need of more teachers!
The educational technology platform Edpuzzle is designed to help teachers flip their classrooms by making any video their lesson with easy-to-use video editing tools and an expansive database of videos to choose from.
The other great thing about Edpuzzle? It offers free online PD for teachers so you can bone up on a wide variety of teaching topics!
The free online certification courses include Gamification, Project-Based Learning, 21st-Century Learning, Personalized Learning, plus all things Edpuzzle.
As you complete the courses, you’ll earn badges which you can share on your social media profiles and get certificates of completion to show your admin.
All of the courses are under two hours, so it truly is a great resource!
On FutureLearn, you’ll find a wide variety of free courses that are smartphone-friendly and tablet-friendly so you can learn on the go.
Partnered with the Open University, there are courses for every type of teacher here. They’re organized into categories such as Inclusive Teaching, Language Teaching, Primary Education and Secondary Education.
We’re fans of the STEM Teaching category, which offers courses like STEM - Linking Curriculum Learning to STEM Careers, and Teaching Programming in Primary Schools.
Courses have set start dates, so make sure to check out which ones are coming up this summer!
More than half the devices used in U.S. classrooms are Google Chromebooks, making knowing how to use Google tools a must-learn skill for any teacher.
Google for Education’s Teacher Center offers oodles of teacher training from handholding Google Classroom newbies with the First Day training series, to more advanced training or becoming a Google-certified educator.
There are also courses on becoming familiar with Chromebooks and Android, and on how to teach coding.
On a more general level, you can try out courses on Google Docs and Google Slides that you can also put to good use outside of the classroom. Just like all the other courses on the list, these are all free!
The last platform on our list offers affordable college courses to students as well as free resources for teachers.
To gain access to courses like Classroom Instruction Using an LMS, Professional Learning Communities and Classroom Device Management, all you have to do is sign up via Facebook or Google (or create your own account) and enroll in the course of your choice.
Sophia for Teachers walks you through the entire process with student guides and orientation videos to get you started.
Check it out and start browsing the 20+ courses you can work on this summer!
Now, all that’s left to do is sign up for the courses of your choice, and use all the money you saved with free teacher PD on your hard-earned summer vacation!