Education /
May 16, 2019

Professional Development and Why It Matters

Professional development (PD) is way too often referred to as that thing that you do when you have “extra time.” The new generation of opportunities is way beyond that. Today, PD is a must have and an essential tool to excellence in education. In this article, we will highlight the why, when, who, and how of PD in the transportation education world.

Program Excellence

Everybody wants to do the right things and for the right reason. Knowing how to operate a program for student success is always a moving target. We simply cannot set up a program once and then expect that model will last for years to come. PD for program excellence in the transportation sector is about 2 things.

  1. Technical updating.

    Technology changes at a rapid pace, and thus the type and amount of technology in transportation sectors changes rapidly. Instructors need to get to PD in order to stay at the top of their game and to stay current with what they are teaching students. In some cases, a certain amount of hours is needed for the program to stay accredited.

  2. Networking and program benchmarking.

    If an instructor never leaves their program and never compares notes with others, they will never grow and thus the program will not grow. While at PD conferences, instructors get to know other instructors and other viewpoints. Often, a tour of the local school is included in a conference.

Personal Success

When you set yourself up for success, you setup everyone around you for success, including your students and industry partners.
Expanding your knowledge base is not just about getting smarter, it’s about building onto your existing database of technical and teaching knowledge. When you attend PD conferences, you are able to see things in a new light or from a new perspective. Many instructors come home from a PD conference and then look at their shop, their curriculum, their tools, and their environment.
Networking is not only friendship and relationship building, but it is also mentoring and connections. More experienced instructors often are able to be a resource to less experienced instructors. Often an instructor with less experience doesn’t even know that when they attend a conference that they could eventually connect with someone or some organization that is willing to be a mentor. And, often a relationship builds and mentoring is occurring without the official title.
Overall, going to PD and conferences will boost an instructor’s confidence.


When you become a better teacher, all sorts of things start to fall in place. You will find that as you gain new skills, see more of what’s out there, gain new knowledge, find new perspectives, and become more confident your professionalism grows and your program follows suit.


  1. Perkins

    The Carl D. Perkins CTE fund is often a source of funds for professional development. There are many rules associated with Perkins funds and an instructor should consult with the local consortia coordinator before securing registration for PD/conferences.

  2. Teachers Union Professional Development

    Most teacher unions have a fund for professional development. The amounts range from enough for an in-state or regional conference to being able to afford a national conference for a week. Talk with your union representative, your HR department, or your administrator/supervisor about the funds and the process for requesting.

  3. School Funds

    More often than you would think, high schools and colleges have funding for teacher professional development. Sometimes it is a matching funds program, and sometimes it is straight up. Go ahead, have that chat with your administrator about your program and how professional development would help increase student success and industry partnerships. You don’t know what will come of it until you ask.

  4. Grants

    Often, grants are written to develop a program or move a program forward. Writing in PD, conference registration, and travel expenses ahead of time are needed in the grant.

  5. Industry Partnerships

    This funding source will take some time and effort to develop the relationship with your industry partners, but in the long run, you will find that your industry partners want to work with instead of without you.

Where and When

While there are many opportunities for professional development during the school year, the majority are in the summer time. Here is a brief list of the upcoming professional development opportunities that are related to transportation education. There are many additional opportunities with online training, that are not listed here.

  • Minnesota Teachers of Transportation and Industrial Areas (MTTIA) Summer Conference
    • August 6, 7, 8 2019 @ Central Lakes College in Brainerd, MN
      Check It Out

  • North American Council of Automotive Teachers

  • ASE Education Foundation Instructor Conference

  • AED Foundation Instructor Conference

  • EAA AirVenture

  • National Science Foundation High Impact Technology Exchange Conference

  • National BioDiesel Conference and Expo

  • American Technical Education Association, Region 5

  • Association for Career and Technical Education CareerTech VISION 2019

  • Association for Career and Technical Education Best Practices and Innovations Conference

  • Minnesota Technology and Engineering Educators Association Conference

  • National Career Pathways Network Conference

  • CTE Works! Summit

  • Specialty Equipment Manufactures Association (SEMA) Show

  • I-CAR Instructor Confernece

  • Vision KC