Plan Ahead for Professional Development

You can learn something new this fall and winter by attending a conference or seminar.

By Erin Bailey


lightbulb of innovation

Just a few short weeks into a new school year and you might already be in search of a new teaching method or getting up to speed with the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Lucky for you, there are countless seminars, conferences, and professional development opportunities waiting for you this fall and winter. Deadlines for many of them are fast approaching, so check the websites today.

Math and Science

The National Science Teachers Association works to promote innovation and excellence in science education at all levels through publications, advocacy, communication with Congress, and professional development. The NSTA sponsors three regional conferences each fall. This year, the workshops will focus on helping students make everyday connections to science applications inside and outside the classroom, integrating science concepts across the curriculum, and problem-solving the scientific way. A significant number of sessions are devoted to engaging students in STEM classes. Three host cities make the conferences available to a broader audience:

  • Louisville, KY - October 18-20, 2012
  • Atlanta, GA - November 1-3, 2012
  • Phoenix, AZ - December 6-8, 2012

The mission of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics is to support mathematics educators to ensure best practices in teaching for all students. Three regional NCTM conventions are taking place this fall:

  • Chicago, IL - November 28-30, 2012: Many of the sessions in Chicago will focus on differentiation, instructional strategies and practices related to the Common Core, and new assessment techniques. 
  • Hartford, CT - October 24-26, 2012: The workshops will include ways to implement technology, research-based techniques to teach mathematics, and effective intervention methods. 

Special Education

The Council for Exceptional Children is the nation’s largest professional organization dedicated to progressing the education of students with special needs and gifted learners. Their national convention is held each spring but state chapters also hold events. A complete calendar can be accessed through the CEC website; however, here is a sampling:

  • Kona, HI - January 23-25, 2012: Topics to be addressed at the International DADD (Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities) convention include roles of paraprofessionals, assistive and digital technology, and post secondary initiatives. 
  • Pinehurst, NC - January 30-February 1, 2013: Dr. Karen, Kevin Voytecki, and their children will give the keynote address at the North Carolina conference. Speakers and sessions will address the topic of Parents as Partners. 
  • Denver, CO - November 15-18, 2012: The National Association for Gifted Children works to raise public awareness of educational issues affecting the nation’s three- million gifted learners and support positive changes in policies and programs. The presenters at this year’s NAGC convention don’t get much bigger. Howard Gardner, Joseph Renzulli, Temple Grandin, and author Ridley Pearson are scheduled. The strands focus on topics such as the Common Core, STEM, technology integration, and developing creativity. All workshops will address the needs of the gifted population.

Early Childhood

  • Atlanta, GA - November 7-10, 2012: The National Association for the Education of Young Children works on behalf of the nation's youngest learners by setting standards of excellence for early childhood programs. Author Mem Fox is the keynote speaker at this year’s NAEYC convention. The theme is Developmentally Appropriate Practice and many of the workshops will focus on the best ways to promote a young child’s optimal learning and development. 


The International Reading Association is committed to worldwide literacy.  They support teachers and other professionals through advocacy, resources, volunteerism and professional development. Like the CEC, member chapters sponsor many conferences throughout the year. Check the website for a complete list of IRA member events.

  • Liverpool, NY - October 28-30, 2012: This year, the New York Reading Conference is almost exclusively centered on addressing instructional strategies which support the Common Core and current issues in literacy. 
  • Portland, OR - February 8-9, 2013: The Oregon IRA Chapter will focus on in-depth investigations of literacy connecting instruction to the Common Core, and comprehension strategies for fiction and non-fiction. 

Become a Grosvenor Fellow

If you’re looking for more than a conference, the National Geographic Association’s fellowship program is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Participants depart for the Arctic Svalbard from Oslo, Norway aboard the National Geographic Explorer. The application process is a lengthy one and begins in mid November. Check the website for more details.

Learn-from-Home Possibilities

With school budgets tighter than ever, sometimes traveling is out of the question. Web seminars are a cost-effective and engaging way to gain new knowledge. Several of the above organizations offer online professional development. It would pay to check out these websites for more information:

More Helpful Resources:

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