Susan Riley | January 2018

Teachers Deserve Meaningful Professional Development

We hear it all the time – engaging our students in their learning.  Providing hands-on opportunities in our classrooms.  Or even getting creative in our approach to teaching.  And while all of this is great for our students, what about our teachers?  While we are busy creating exciting learning environments and approaches for the children in our rooms, teachers are being offered professional development that is stuck in the 20th century.

Meaningful professional development for teachers isn’t just a buzzword or a checkbox.  It’s a critical component to the success of everyone in our schools: students, teachers, parents and administrators alike.  When teachers receive PD that is exciting, innovative, relevant, and practical, they grow and become the best hope our students have for success.

That’s why EducationCloset is proud to offer our annual online Arts Integration and STEAM conference.  Each July, over 1,500 teachers, leaders and artists join together to explore the best practices for integrating the arts.  But what we’re most excited about is the kind of professional development that takes place during these events.  Here’s a few ways this kind of PD changes the game for teachers:


Because the entire conference takes place online, teachers can enjoy the flexibility that we often provide for students.  Our professional educators deserve this same kind of trust and understanding.  We’ve had teachers attend conferences while sitting outside at the pool, in the school media center with other staff members, watching while cleaning out their art and music classrooms, and even while taking a road trip.

Lifetime On-Demand Access

We would never expect our students to retain and apply everything they learned in just one session.  So why do we expect that of teachers?  Yet, this is often what happens.  We sit in a professional development day and then are asked to implement everything we learned immediately in the classroom.

We’ve taken a different approach.  Each conference registration comes with lifetime, on-demand access to the live-day online conference event.  This means that teachers can go back and rewatch sessions anytime they want.  They can use the session or the complimentary handouts during their planning sessions.  And if they need a “refresh” of the learning, they can always return.  No limits.


There’s a big assumption out there that online learning isn’t as “hands-on” as face-to-face.  But this conference proves that’s not true.  The live-day online event includes a lively chat area where participants ask questions, share resources and connect with other teachers from around the world.  Every time, teachers tell us that this is one of their favorite parts of the event.  There’s also an active Twitter chat during and after the conference, as well as membership in a private Facebook group where the learning continues after the live-day conference is over.

During the conference, there are many hands-on sessions, too.  Participants can join in and create items that they can take back to their classrooms, try out new techniques and supplies and participate in sample arts integration and STEAM lessons.

With all of this baked into the conference, there really is no reason that staff professional development can’t rise to meet 21st century skills and standards.  It’s time to give teachers the same kind of learning that we expect they give our students.

Interested in attending the upcoming conference event?  Join us and see what 21st century PD really looks like!

About the Author

Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, STEAM, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education. Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter. Email Susan