Professional Development

As freelance writers, we often need to look for creative ways to generate income to pay those pesky bills. One solid way for me has been to teach professional development sessions in the summer, continuing education classes for teachers which are required for renewal of their certification.

Teaching Professional Development Classes for Teachers

Paper Lightning by Darcy Pattison, prewriting activities In my area, this is the time of year to send out proposals to schools and to our state’s education service cooperative (or regional centers for professional development). Now is when they are planning and scheduling summer classes. I’m offering to custom tailor a session to their needs, but I’m also giving them these specific sessions which I could teach:

Paper Lightning: Prewriting Activities to Spark Creativity and Help Students Write Better.

Based on my book, Paper Lightning, this session covers prewriting activities for the full range of writing tasks including all essays and writing fiction, with special attention to activities that fulfill the prewriting portion of the writing standards in the English Language Arts Curriculum Standards. This includes moving from oral to written language, selecting a topic, narrowing a topic, how prewriting can help make essays longer and more in-depth, organizing information and ideas, and more. Drafting, editing, revising and publishing standards will be addressed as appropriate. (3 or 6 hours; K-8) Download sample pages from Paper Lightning.

Write a Picture Book

This session encourages a teacher’s own creative writing by developing a picture book idea into a finished manuscript. The session covers the genres of picture books, picture book standards, plot, characters, and language. Text is put into a dummy format to simulate a picture book format.
(3 or 6 hours; for any teacher)

What’s New in Children’s (or YA) Literature

I’m also current on new releases in children’s literature from kindergarten through young adult and would be glad to develop sessions for your teachers on any topic, any grade level.

Tips on Developing Professional Development Classes

  • Talk to your teacher-friends to see how many hours of professional development are required, where they usually take these hours and what are their favorite classes to take.
  • Find contact information for those in charge of professional development. This might be at a local school district, it might be a school principal, or the state department of education might have this information on its website.
  • Study your state’s language arts curriculum standards with an eye toward what you could teach. I focus on the writing standards, but you may prefer to focus on the reading standards.
  • Evaluate your strengths/weaknesses in areas covered by the curriculum standards. What could you effectively teach? What would you like teaching? Can you tie this into one of your books, for example, teaching history teachers about Hitler’s Germany?
  • Develop a solid proposal that fills a need in the teaching community.
    • Emphasize the curriculum. Usually by tying your proposal into curriculum standards, you’ll hit a sweet spot.
    • Provide teaching level targeted. Is this class for K or 8th grade teachers? If not already evident, also specify the subject matter.
    • How long will the class last? In our area, classes are usually half day or all day.
  • Send out the proposal in a timely manner. Find out when educators in your area are ready to schedule professional development sessions and send it out at that time. Be ready to discuss fees, travel reimbursement, overnight stays if needed, handouts, equipment needs, etc.

Some years, I seek out many extra opportunities for income through teaching professional development; other years, I just take what comes. Either way, it’s been a great way to meet people in my state who love children and children’s literature.

Do you do this in your area?