Teachers are required to take a certain number of Continuing Education hours every year. These continuing education or clock hours come in a variety of ways on a variety of topics.
Different employers may offer different training opportunities. My first job was at a child care center in MN. We did not receive any clock hours or ongoing training there. While it was a requirement, we had to take care of our own training outside of the workplace. The easiest way at the time, was to read articles and write a report on them (I’m not sure if this means of earning clock hours is even allowed anymore). When I worked for the school district in MN, we received pretty much all of the training/hours we needed. Now I am working at a child care center in WI. While we do receive some training, the opportunities aren’t there to receive all the required hours. What many people may not realize is that this can actually be a good thing. It allows us to choose our own training, depending on what our personal needs are.
Training is available on behavior issues, working with parents, as well as developing literacy, math, science, music, art, etc. Clock hours can be earned through short workshops, all day conferences, online courses, home study courses, and even work experience (such as mentoring student teachers). Requirements vary on the state and type of organization. A MN teaching license requires 125 clock hours over a 5 year period to renew. Child care teachers are required to earn anywhere from 25-40 hours a year, depending on their position.
My preference is to attend conferences filled with other teachers that deal with the same issues and concerns. One of the best parts of attending conferences with other teachers, is the sharing of ideas. A few years back, I attended the Early Childhood Conference at Stout University. I got so many great ideas for art, math, and science activities, as well as being introduced to some great children’s musicians, Colleen and Uncle Squaty. These conferences inspire me to be a better teacher. Any time someone is stuck in a rut of doing the same old things, or burning out, I recommend they go to events like this to have their energy renewed. You can’t help but remember why we’re in this business in the first place. It’s all about the love of children, and wanting to make their world a better place to be!
As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I let my MN Teaching License lapse, as it was up for renewal during the time preceding my divorce. Much of my training was more than 5 years old, so it no longer counts towards renewal. Now, I am working hard to get the remainder of my clock hours done. My goal is to finish them by the end of the year.
Just yesterday, I sent in 17 more hours that I finished in the past couple of months. I am now up to 85 out of 125 hours completed. I am currently working on a Care Course (home study on Stress and Child Care) worth an additional 25 hours. I also have a couple more online classes through the Professional Learning Board that I will be taking. When these are complete, I will have enough hours to renew my MN teaching license in Family and Early Childhood Education. I am very excited about getting that done!
Once my license is renewed, I will not cram all my training in at the last minute. I will spread them across the next 5 years. I will continue to go to workshops, such as those offered by the Appelbaum Training Institute. I will also continue to mentor student teachers, take home study courses, and attend training offered by my place of employment.
I encourage other teachers to explore the many methods training is available. Find a variety of ways to get training in a variety of areas. I can almost guarantee you will become a better teacher for it…