I asked what your biggest challenge is–being a CTE teacher. One of the most popular responses was lack of support.

The other day I went to help a CTE teacher in my building with a lesson on manufacturing. While I was there, I apologized for not being in her classroom more this year. 

Her course had a major change in standards this year and I wish I had been there more. She then explained to me that she’s never felt like she had support. 

The district had asked her to move to our school and teach some new courses several years ago. She only agreed because they told her that another CTE teacher was available to help her. 

That wasn’t the case. Unless she was to receive training by osmosis during her once-a-month district department meeting. 

This story is all too familiar to many of us. You may have even been asked to be a mentor to another teacher, but weren’t given the resources, time, or compensation.

This is extremely frustrating–and may not change. 

Like Marie Forleo says, “everything is figureoutable” and the following are some ways you can support yourself and grow into the CTE teacher you want to be.

Support through joining professional organizations

One of the best ways you can support yourself is by joining professional organizations. 

As an undergrad, I joined ITEEA (International Technology & Engineering Educator Association) and UACTE (Utah Association for Career & Technical Education). Not only did I join, but I attended events and conferences every year.

At these conferences, CTE teachers would present what they were doing in their classrooms. There were sessions ranging from mindfulness to how to organize your robotics parts. 

These conferences are also a great way to network with other CTE teachers.

While ACTE has divisions for each CTE cluster, there are other organizations you can join that are specific to your teaching area. I mentioned ITEEA for technology teachers. There is also AAFCS (American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences) for FCS teachers as well as NAAE (National Association of Agricultural Educators) for Ag teachers. 

Joining education and non-education organizations for support

There’s also value in joining organizations that support a wider range of educators like ASCD.  ASCD published some of my favorite education books. While I haven’t attended any ASCD face-to-face events, I have viewed some of their webinars. 

Some other organizations you may want to join are those for professionals–not just teachers. 

Being a member of SWE (Society of Women Engineers) sent me updates on scholarship opportunities that I passed on to my students.

Jared, my welding teaching husband, is a member of AWS (American Welding Society). He may not attend a lot of their chapter meetings but has used those contacts to help serve on his advisory board.

Another way that these organizations can offer support is through their publications. Like conferences or events, article authors share the best ideas when it comes to their niche.

Hint: Before joining these organizations, check with your principal or CTE director to see if they will pay your membership fees.

Use social media to support yourself

Social media isn’t just about photos and posting your status anymore. I find that I am using these platforms less for keeping tabs on others and more for learning content. I’ve also been able to connect with other teachers in these spaces.

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Clubhouse all have ways for you to learn and connect with other CTE teachers.

One way that you can do this is through Facebook Groups. Search for your teaching area and you’ll be surprised at what comes up.

These groups range in size where you can ask questions, share ideas, and even get lesson plans.

Using hashtags on social media can be another way for you to find a supportive network on social media. By following hashtags on social media like #CTETeacher, you’ll discover other teachers. You will also see what they are spotlighting or doing in their classes. 

Check my Instagram “Social Example” highlights. I post great CTE ideas that I find using hashtags.

Find in-person training or workshops

Need to learn a particular skill or teaching a new class? Consider attending an in-person training or workshop. This type of training allows you to get content and also coaching while you’re there.

Our state CTE department offers a lot of training over the summer to support CTE teachers. They have some on shop safety, teaching specific courses, and teaching pedagogy. Because they are state-sponsored, they come with re-licensure points and/or teaching endorsements.

Check with your state CTE department to see what they offer. 

Like mentioned earlier, professional organizations may also sponsor training or workshops. This training is longer and goes deeper than your single break-out session. 

Another place to find great training is at your local technical college or university. They may offer some refresher courses or be holding workshops. 

Jared attended several Weld Ed workshops. The National Science Foundation’s ATE program sponsors these workshops. They target two-year colleges but welcome high school teachers as well.

Equipment or software manufacturer workshops

These companies want your continued use and support so they are willing to train you. 

Lincoln Electric offers free training to welding educators. Bernina also offers workshops and classes on how to use their machines. I’ve attended many SolidWorks workshops with our local sales representative. 

Look around your lab or shop and do a quick Google search to see what training is out there. 

FYI: Most schools set aside money for teacher training and professional development. If you lack the funds and want to attend a workshop, talk to your administration. It helps if you go in knowing how the workshop will benefit your students.

Utilize free content through podcasts and YouTube

By listening to this podcast, you’re supporting yourself. Listening to industry experts teach, share experiences, and challenge your thinking helps you grow as a CTE teacher.

Most podcast listeners listen to 7-9 podcasts a week. What else are you listening to?

Currently, I’m listening to other educators like Wade and Hope King of the New Edu, Grace Marie Griffith of Teacher Take the Lead, Alissa McDonald of the Teacher Hustle Podcast, and Mandy Rice of the Sustainable Teacher Podcast. 

You may be able to find podcasts for your content area like any of the trades, business, or health sciences. 

While I love a good podcast, sometimes you need to see an explanation instead of hearing it. Enter in YouTube.

YouTube videos can help you learn new skills and help improve your teaching. Because YouTube acts as a search engine, you can search to find about anything. 

One of my video production teacher friends created a video about video disclosure documents. You can also find many videos on how to use specific software. 

If you haven’t already, check out the videos on specific teaching principles. Practice your focused observation skills by watching another teacher teach. 

Ask yourself the questions that were discussed in Episode 28: Want to Know How to Ace Your Teacher Evaluation to identify the objectives for the lesson. You can do this with any lessons, but you can also search for your grade level.

Online courses to gain knowledge and support

Last but not least is taking part in online courses. These have gotten more popular recently due to the COVID pandemic, but the idea has been around for a while. 

I’m not talking about taking an online or remote course through a college or university. We’re talking about taking a course from an expert in something you are interested in.

One of the first online courses that I purchased was on how to clean my house. It was from Kendra Hennesy of Mother Like a Boss. She was a professional house cleaner for 10 years. In her course, she goes over cleaning tools, products, and routines. She also has videos of her cleaning various parts of a house.

To be honest, all that information is out there on the Internet. I could have Googled most of the information, but I chose to buy the course instead. Why? Because she packaged it so that I didn’t need to spend the time researching.

You are already short on time and you are busy planning for your classes. That’s why I’m currently developing the Utilizing Social Media to Increase Program Visibility course. 

Increasing your program’s visibility is one of the ways to take control of your ideal teaching schedule. 

In this course, you will learn the “Define, Plan, Create, Execute, and Refine” framework to showcase your program on social media. You will be able to use this framework over and over as you reach your goals and set new ones. 

Key Takeaways

There are many ways to get support from thought leaders. Even without getting support from your local school or district. 

We first went over some of the organizations that you can join as a CTE teacher. Then, we talked about making connections on social media. 

Next, we talked about in-person training and workshops. And finally, we talked about online resources like podcasts, YouTube, and online courses.

Useful Links

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