For many teachers and educators, advancing their salaries and developing their careers is a dream. But with full-time work teaching, side coaching gigs, family and life obligations and more, finding the time and means to achieve those dreams is difficult and often feels out of reach.
In fact, according to We Are Teachers, teachers work an average of 50 hours per week and 400 overtime hours per year. Additionally, 30 percent of teachers have a job outside of teaching, which can mean little to no time to achieve a goal of graduate education.
But at one university, that dream is completely achievable.
The notion of a busy and packed life for teachers and educators was a key reason why the Professional Development Courses online program was created at the University of La Verne. Developed with the university because of their innovative approach to education and dedication to graduate courses for teachers, the courses’ creators wanted teachers’ needs to be at the forefront and core of their mission.
The program offers more than 250 credit courses
Keeping in mind the vast and differing interests of prospective students, the courses consist of more than 250 graduate, non-degree semester credit courses for educators seeking salary advancement, recertification, license renewal or personal enrichment. Courses are completed in an online or PDF format, and students have up to one full year to complete their courses. All courses include materials that are designed to address specific, current educational issues for today’s educators.
Educators and teachers typically enroll due to the courses’ flexibility and updated, relevant material. Education and psychology are the most prominent categories, with the courses also offering studies in history, science, technology, sports and more. Their main focus is to help teachers reach their professional goals and do it in a way that they feel supported and understood.
“We want teachers to know that the content they receive from our university is rich and relevant to what they’re looking for in curriculum development and they are completing it through a program that is online and tailored to fit their needs.,” said Leigh LaLonde, director at Professional Development Courses.
And in addition to offering the latest material, the courses are mainly a great option for educators due to their flexibility.
Flexibility for teachers is a main priority
LaLonde said teachers often have a plate full of obligations, since they teach and also partake in coaching and side commitments. Most of the teachers taking the courses are K-12 educators, and they’re not necessarily looking to obtain an added degree. They really just need graduate-level coursework.
“School boards and districts are asking more of teachers today,” LaLonde said. “So we decided we wanted to be flexible and open.”
In the interest of flexibility, the courses offer open enrollment of up to 15 semester credits, one full year to complete them, and educators can enroll anytime during a semester. Lalonde said a lot of times teachers aren’t made aware of requirements they need for salary advancement, so open enrollment is crucial in ensuring they meet their credit needs. Often, teachers and educators can miss bumps in pay because the end of the semester didn’t coincide with typical course deadlines, so a flexible course structure is crucial.
“Because of the flexibility and understanding, we can help teachers reach their goals without sacrificing the rigor and credits their superiors expect from them,” LaLonde said.
The flexibility was crucial in one instance, with a teacher who had her eye on her dream job but needed a certification quickly. With Professional Development Courses, she was able to finish her courses with enough time to receive her transcript. She ended up landing the job as well as a higher salary.
“It’s more than just meeting their professional goals,” LaLonde said. “It’s meeting an internal desire they didn’t know they had.” She said instructors even receive thank-you cards and notes from former students.
A hands-on and easy-to-navigate approach
In order to assist teachers and educators in furthering their education and achieving advancements for themselves, the Professional Development Courses program prides itself on an easy logistical process. Prospective students can register online, and the cost of the credits includes books and multimedia learning materials. like DVDs. The course cost is $125 per credit.
Courses in the program are also graded quickly, typically within five business days. They are designed to take approximately 15 hours per semester credit or 45 hours worth of work to complete a three-credit course. But, all of the courses are self-paced and designated as independent study.
In addition to making the registration process smooth, Professional Development Courses at the University of La Verne also offers timely assistance from professors. Professors are available via live chat and email in order to help students navigate through any questions or challenges they have about course content.
For teachers looking to register, the Spring Semester open enrollment continues through May 31 and the Summer Semester will open registration on June 1. The semester that will appear on a student’s transcript is based on the date he or she registered for the course, not the date it is completed.
Relevance and up-to-date material are a central goal
In addition to providing a flexible approach to course completion, the courses themselves are updated regularly to ensure students are soaking in the most relevant material.
In fact, there have been some cases with students who completed the Professional Development Courses and ended up taking their education even further.
“We feel successful when our teachers feel successful,” said LaLonde. “When we hear about a teacher’s hard work paying off to move up on the salary schedule, or another person using their completed courses to renew their license, it makes us feel like these are our accomplishments, too. We love checking in with our students and acknowledging their successes and finding out how we can continue to support their professional goals.”
The program also makes pursuing more courses easy and accessible, with students able to register online, review syllabus materials, quickly request transcripts and more.