Q&A: How Funding Professional Development Creates a Stronger Classroom

Kindergarten teacher Janice has raised more than $5,600 on AdoptAClassroom.org from individual donors and Spotlight funds in order to support her classroom needs. She purchased much-needed classroom supplies, but she also used the donations to pay for professional development courses to help her effectively utilize the materials she ordered.
We hear from teachers and principals regularly who want to know more about how to find resources for professional development. We talked to Janice about her experience using AdoptAClassroom.org. Here’s what she had to say:
AdoptAClassroom.org (AAC): How did you spend your AdoptAClassroom.org donations?
Janice: I used the donations to update my classroom library to focus on diversity (authors, topic/main character, abilities, family structure), purchase basic supplies, early childhood STEM materials, curriculum materials that promote diversity, and social-emotional learning (SEL) materials and books. I also used grant money I received from AdoptAClassroom.org’s Inclusive Classroom Fund for professional development, including the California Kindergarten Conference.
AAC: What were some helpful sessions you attended at the conference?
Janice: The sessions I attended at the conference included Trauma-Informed Teaching, Learning through Movement, and using PVC pipes for engineering. These sessions really helped me make effective use of the materials I purchased.
AAC: What are some ways professional development has helped you?
Janice: Individualized professional development provides me with the opportunity to pursue my instructional goals, acknowledging that all teachers are at different places professionally, which is reflected in our different needs. Attending the weekend-long California Kindergarten Conference gave me time away from my classroom to reflect on my instructional practice, be inspired by the work of my colleagues, and plan how to best implement the strategies I was learning about.
AAC: How did professional development help your students?
Janice: The immediate effect of professional development on my students was a re-invigorated teacher on Monday morning. The time to reflect on my practice allowed me to more effectively meet the learning needs of my students. Having the choice of what professional development to pursue ensured that it was meaningful and applicable to me and my students’ needs.
AAC: Why is it important for teachers to have access to professional development opportunities?
Janice: Teachers hope that their students will become life-long learners. Teachers should also have opportunities to be life-long learners with access to education that  improves one’s teaching practice, helps them better understand the needs of their students, and develops our craft through best practices.
AAC: How can teachers find professional development courses that are right for them?
Janice: Finding the courses is not the challenge;  paying for them is. Very often, the professional development provided by school districts is limited and is the result of administrator or school board goals, which may or may not intersect with teacher goals.  The support I received from AdoptAClassroom.org helped me pay for professional development so that many cohorts of my students, now and in the future, will benefit.

On AdoptAClassroom.org, teachers and schools can raise funds for their classroom to buy the materials or services they need, like professional development. There are fees associated with out-of-network professional development purchases, so please contact us at [email protected] for assistance and approval. Register your classroom or school today to get started.
Teachers! Join our Teachers’ Lounge Facebook Group, where you can ask AdoptAClassroom.org staff members and your fellow teachers for grant writing and fundraising advice.