Free and Flexible: Virtual Summer Teacher Professional Development

We all know that this year was unlike any year we have ever seen in the teacher profession. Even now in the summer months, it is still unclear what next year will bring us as educators.

Even as balmy breezes and lazy, leisurely summer afternoons greet us, we are still in the thick of a pandemic that is keeping us from enjoying many of our customary recreational activities.

Nevertheless, just because we can’t go in person to summer professional development events, that doesn’t mean that we need to miss out on them altogether.  With teaching requirements and platforms rapidly changing, we may be well served to seek the many available virtual experiences to better equip us for our future classrooms, whatever September brings.  While I’m not sure what my teaching assignment will look like next,  I know these summer learning opportunities will help prepare me, and they are all offered virtually, whenever my schedule allows- perfect for summer!

ALISON-freepd – Did you ever want to go back for a degree, but allowed the price tag to dissuade you? ALISON offers many FREE classes and professional development opportunities, but I was most impressed with their extensive offering of diploma- and certificate-earning classes that were worth adding to my resume! This includes degrees and diplomas in things like Educational Psychology and  Teaching Skills for Educators. Check out your options and create your own summer learning experience!

Apple-teacher– Are you an Apple user? Do you have access to apple products like iPads and Macs in your classroom? Check this site out for best uses of your products and tutorials and ideas for you to become the best “apple teacher” you can be!

Ed-web– Ed-web offers free podcasts that can help any virtual and live classroom teacher. They offer free PD certificates, but most importantly, they offer an online community that can be especially helpful in our changing education system as it allows educators to share ideas, vent frustrations, and learn new strategies.

FREEpodcasts – This one is great because it offers a library of over 40 downloadable resources, for free, whenever you are ready. Have some time at the beach, or the pool, or driving in the car? It’s easy to jump on and choose what best fits your needs. The pod casts offer a variety of subjects, grade levels, and topics You are sure to find something to improve your teaching skills!

GOOGLE-teachers– If you are anything like me, you would be lost without Google. At this point in my teaching career, my entire classroom runs through Google.  Google teachers offers you short podcasts that can help you navigate and use the many resources they offer to teachers. No matter where you are with your Google Classroom capabilities, check out this link and see what new tool you can incorporate!

MITcollegeclasses– MIT has posted classes (already completed by MIT professors) aimed at higher level educators that can be viewed and completed from home. There is no cost, and it’s your choice to read along with the syllabus or simply listen to the lectures.  You won’t earn credits, but you can certainly learn a lot. Each course comes complete with free, downloadable course materials, calendar of posts, assignment list, and videos. I am looking at “Becoming the next Bill Nye – creating an educational show” for my summer learning adventure!

TED-talks-EDUCATION– I have used many TED talks in my classroom, and it was great to see a collection of TED talks aimed at helping us teachers in our classrooms! Talks range from higher education, to student needs, inequalities in the classroom, and much more. Offerings cover a variety of subjects and grade levels.

-Jessica Cicalese Kurtz 



Jessica Cicalese-Kurtz, MA, K-12 Teaching and Technology; BA, K-8 Education; BS, Biology, Science and Engineering, is a high school STEAM Bio and AP Research teacher at Toms River High School East. Jess is also the Science Fair Coordinator at Toms River Middle School South. Jess has written curriculum for K-8 Science and High School Biology, as well as designed and implemented workshops for teachers. She is a freelance writer, wife, and budgeting mom of four who loves to travel, enjoy nature, connect with animals, and read.

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