The Illinois Federation of Teachers recognizes the quality union-sponsored professional development is critical to helping you be more effective in your job and as a union leader That's why the IFT offers a wide variety of professional development programs. Courses are taught by union members and staff who have been specially trained to meet your professional development and union training needs.

Supporting Students with Grief and Loss

JULY 13  |  1:30-3pm  |  FREE

Childhood bereavement is all too common yet grieving children are vastly overlooked. Schools have a critical role to play in the grief journeys of children who have lost a loved one. Teachers’ and classmates’ responses to a student’s grief can either serve as a source of support and stability during a difficult time, or as an additional hurdle to surmount. Moreover, grief can have a serious impact on learning for school-age children; bereavement can manifest itself in decreased academic performance, social withdrawal, and behavioral problems. By demonstrating support, educators have an enormous opportunity to improve student outcomes.

Eligible members may receive 1.5 PD hours for completing this training.



Member Self-care During Traumatic Times

JULY 14  |  1:30-3pm  |  FREE


A global pandemic and racial injustice have exacerbated instability and chaos in our world. As educators seek to recover from the last year, they must also think about and attempt to plan for the uncertainty of the upcoming school year. As students come back to school with increased levels of toxic stress and trauma, educators will be their first line of defense. This webinar focuses on educator well-being because educators will need to be physically, mentally and emotionally well in order to support students and their families through these trying times.

Eligible members may receive 1.5 PD hours for completing this training.



summer virtual learning series
Self-care Includes Advocating for Yourself

JULY 20  |  1:30-3pm  |  FREE

This session builds on Member Self-care During Traumatic Times and the

need for educator self and staff care. As schools re-open, there will be a need to have poignant, courageous, and collaborative conversations in order to rebuild communities on a foundation built on trust, empathy, and compassion. This session will discuss trauma-informed strategies for how to engage in such conversations so that educators can be strong advocates for their students, their communities, and themselves.

Eligible members may receive 1.5 PD hours for completing this training.



Teaching to the Times: Culturally Relevant Pedagogy as Key to Trauma-informed Practice

AUGUST 20  |  1:30-3pm  |  FREE

As students return to school after months of instability, isolation, and

violence, they will need increased socioemotional support and opportunities to heal. This session will encourage the use of curricula that is both restorative and academically rigorous. Culturally relevant curriculum is a key component of trauma-informed pedagogy and requires specific components, continual self-analysis, and mindset shifts for educators.

Eligible members may receive 1.5 PD hours for completing this training.



Initial Teacher Evaluation|AA2001

SESSION 1: JULY 14,  4-6pm  |  JULY 24-25, 8am-4:30pm

SESSION 2: JULY 28, 4-6pm  |  AUGUST 7-8,  8am-4:30pm


IFT is offering this course as part of our Union Leadership Institute program to support unions as they implement a locally bargained appeals process. Participants who successfully complete this course are designated in ELIS as qualified evaluators of teachers. Participants must complete and submit pre-work, complete all dates of their chosen training session and successfully complete an assessment in order to qualify as an evaluator. This training qualifies for Professional Development credit or Administrator Academy credit. Evidence will be provided for teacher evaluator credential.

Eligible members may receive 15 PD hours for completing this training.
Participants earn state qualified evaluator designation upon completion of training and passing post-assessment exam



AFT virtual trainings


The AFT’s next biennial professional learning conference, TEACH (Together Educating America’s Children), will be held virtually July 6-10, 2021. Members will have access to more than 50 workshops for educators and union leaders, general sessions and special events, both live and on demand.

Attendees from Illinois will be able to earn Illinois PD credits for their TEACH participation.


Courses cover a wide range of topics, and some courses are specifically designed for PSRPs. To learn more and to register, visit the AFT Summer Educator Academy. Some courses are provided as train-the-trainer and upon completion, you can share the content with your fellow union members—talk to your local union if you’re interested in becoming a trainer. Courses begin as early as July 19.


IFT is now able to offer PD credits for participating in Share My Lesson virtual webinars! Share My Lessons offers hundreds of on demand webinars that members can complete on their own time. Please email sharemylesson@ift-aft.org if you have any questions specific to this exciting new opportunity.

Lee Ann Gemmingen

Southwestern Illinois Federation of Teachers, Local 6600

The LEAD training we received helped us to plan, strategize, and implement our ideas to move forward with our vision of building partnerships to educate, empower, and evolve.

George rosa

Elgin Community College Faculty Association, Local 3791

Understanding our contracts and how to defend them is more critical than ever. There is no better place to learn that than from experienced union staff and activists.

terri berg

Peoria Federation of Support Staff, Local 6099

Worksite Leader training helped me see
how important it is to establish one-on-one
connections with coworkers. I have so many new ideas now and plan to pursue a leadership position in my local.


(Leadership Education and Development)

The IFT, in partnership with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and Cornell University, offers the LEAD program to help local union and council teams establish strong relationships with their members and the community. Throughout the year-long program, LEAD teams hold several collaborative meetings to assess their challenges, determine how to strategically overcome them, and develop an effective action plan.


Professional Issues Training and Support
IFT members are experts in their fields and uniquely qualified to train their colleagues. After completing an IFT Train-the-Trainer course, members are armed with the skills and materials they need to conduct professional development programs in their locals.

IFT members have instructed many programs in their own locals and councils, including:  
Initial Teachers Evaluation Training

Evaluation Empowerment

Building Responsive and Trauma-Informed Schools

Worksite Leader (WSL) Training
The WSL program is designed to help union activists be effective worksite leaders in their building or workplace. By informing and engaging members, WSLs play a critical role in growing and strengthening their locals and the IFT.

To become a WSL graduate participants must complete five courses, including:
Union 101
Communications and Information
Worksite Advocacy
Mobilization and Engagement
Political, Legislative, and Community Engagement


Union leadership institute (ULI)

NOVEMBER 6-7 • FEBRUARY 5-6, 2022 • APRIL 23-24, 2022

IFT’s ULI program has been designed to meet the needs of both new and experienced local leaders and activists in all IFT constituency groups. ULI provides participants with hands-on learning of union skills, professional development opportunities, and a chance to network with other IFT members from throughout the state.

Please check back in early September for full course descriptions and registration information.

professional development & training

Additional trainings and assistance are available based on local need and demand. Examples of custom programs include: campaign and candidate training, social media, current legislative issues, and the teacher evaluation process.

questions? Contact Benita Twillie at btwillie@ift-aft.org or 630/468-4080.

Being a union member is the most effective way to advocate for yourself, your profession, and those you serve.

Now more than ever, it's important that your elected officials hear from you. Office visits and phone calls are the most effective way to have your voice heard.

Empower yourself. Check your voter registration status, register, find IFT-endorsed candidates, and other useful voter tools and resources.

Explore our centralized hub of current issue campaigns and find grassroots volunteer opportunities to take action on your own time.

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