Tips to get the most out of virtual professional development

Ben Pittman is an IXL Professional Learning Specialist with more than a decade of experience as a teacher and department chair.

With the changing times, more and more professional development sessions are moving online. To help maximize what you learn from the next session you attend, IXL’s Professional Learning Specialists—a group of IXL experts and former teachers—have curated this list of top suggestions. So take a look at these tips before joining your next PD session:




  1. Make or find a comfortable, distraction-free space. We know everyone is probably multitasking, especially if you’re working from home and sharing space with kids. To ensure that you are able to stay focused, we recommend finding a dedicated space to do your PD sessions from to get the most out of your time!
  2. Prepare before the session and come with questions. Spend a few minutes prior to the session reviewing the agenda and what will be covered. This will allow you to ask the most important and relevant questions during your time with presenters.
  3. Test your computer controls. Speaking of preparation, consider practicing with the meeting controls for your virtual meeting platform. Make sure you know how to mute and unmute on the platform, turn the camera on and off, and how to share your screen.
  4. Adjust your lighting and camera settings. Check your lighting, camera angle, and background before the session. You never know if you might be called upon to take part in the session—and who doesn’t want to look their best!
  5. Bring a snack. Have a snack on hand so you can quickly curb your hunger if need be during a session, without leaving your desk and missing important information. Make sure you have water, too, to quench your thirst and ensure you can participate in conversations without worrying about a dry throat!




  1. Take notes! This is sometimes overlooked, especially with longer sessions, but it should be a key component of every virtual meeting. Even if someone says that they will “share the slides” with you, taking your own notes will help you retain and recall the information quicker when you need it next.
  2. Participate and stay engaged. We know it can be harder to stay focused for virtual sessions, but you will be glad that you stayed tuned in down the road when you are counting on that information to help you assist a student or teammate with a new program, method, or resource.




  1. Organize your notes. One way to do this is by color. If you use a paper notebook, break out those fun, colorful pens to keep your notes thematically organized. If you’re typing notes, you can easily highlight or change the text color to achieve the same effect.
  2. Keep tabs on what you attend. Use a binder or online option, such as Google Keep or Apple’s Notes application, to track which virtual sessions you have attended and what the topic was for each meeting. Then you can easily reference these notes later when you need them.
  3. Check for CEUs. Check before or during the session to see if your attendance will earn you continuing education credits (CEUs) or other credit toward your teacher/administrator licensing or development. Some sessions will require you to complete a form or comment in a chat box to record your attendance and earn that credit.

Remember to check out IXL’s free PD resources, such as the quick-tip videos. You can find these under ‘Teacher Resources’ when you’re signed into your IXL account. Or consider attending one of our free 30-minute webinars — check out the schedule here. Enjoy your virtual learning!

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