Professional Development

Empowering educators nationwide to facilitate meaningful conversations with students in any classroom setting.

Teacher helps student with work on computer Shadow

Why Choose Close Up for Professional Development?

“I now have new ideas on how to approach controversial topics and how to do it via Zoom for online learning!” –Teacher, Katy, TX

As experts in both virtual and in-class instruction with almost 50 years of experience in nonpartisan, issue-centered education, Close Up offers professional development trainings, both online and on-site, that provide middle and high school teachers with the strategies and resources needed to engage students in meaningful discourse about current controversial issues.

  • Register for Close Up's FREE online Teacher Trainings in 2021!

School Leader Institute: Building an Inclusive School Community in Divisive Times

With the election year now behind us, and schools rebuilding their communities and norms, we believe there is an opportunity to create a more thoughtful, values-based approach for navigating divisive political and social issues. The School Leader Institute is intended to help educators across the country create a strategic vision that supports an inclusive school climate, fosters open and authentic dialogue and deliberation amongst our diverse student bodies, and addresses the demands of parents, board members, and other stakeholders.


Dates: Wednesday July 28 – Friday, July 30, 2021 | 3:00–6:00pm (EST) / 12:00pm–3:00pm (PST)

Application Deadline: Applications due by June 4, 2021. Successful candidates will be notified by June 15, 2021.

Cost: $650 per educator.



Close Up's Professional Development Sessions

We provide 3-hour, 90-minute and 30-minute interactive trainings for individuals, schools, or districts.

Our innovative PD sessions are relevant, impactful, and informed by Close Up’s decades of expertise, helping teachers navigate challenging conversations about social and political issues. Each PD includes ready-to-use lesson plans, activities, and digital resources designed to promote thoughtful discourse, critical thinking, and engagement with multiple perspectives on issues. All sessions below can be adapted on the basis of school curricula and grade levels.


Navigating Challenging Conversations at School

This training is designed to help teachers and administrators across all disciplines frame and respond to discussions about complicated social and political issues. In this session, you will:

  • Learn practical techniques to establish norms that foster empathy and civil dialogue amongst students.
  • Apply a values framework to multiple policy issues to engage in productive discourse.
  • Develop the skills needed to lead students in a critical analysis of political media coverage.
  • Explore strategies for navigating controversial discussions with students.

Facilitating Productive Civil Discourse in Your Classroom

Teachers will gain insight on how to integrate productive issue discussions into their curricula, receive direct instruction on using Close Up’s Controversial Issues in the News digital resources, and learn how to improve students’ ability to engage with differing perspectives. In this session, you will:

  • Learn a values framework for examining political disagreements in the classroom.
  • Model and learn the key structural differences between discussion, debate, and deliberation.
  • Explore a set of scenarios on the topics of criminal justice, COVID-19, and protests, and learn actionable techniques to keep students on track when discourse breaks down.

Media Literacy and Citizenship

Teachers will examine the concepts of media literacy and participate in activities that help students engage with a wide range of media sources, read critically, apply media literacy concepts to social and digital media, and identify efforts to mislead. In this session, you will:

  • Examine the role that media plays in our interpretation of historical events.
  • Participate in model lessons that provide real-world applications of the eight major media literacy concepts.
  • Learn to use readily available online tools to enhance media literacy skills in class.

Community-Engaged Classrooms

Using a proven framework for action from Close Up’s IMPACT and Empowering Girls’ Voices programs, teachers will learn to foster students’ civic and political efficacy and help them take real-world action on issues they care about. In this session, you will:

  • Examine a series of youth-led initiatives to learn how community projects enhance learning.
  • Use a community inventory to help students develop responsive community engagement projects.
  • Learn how to help students plan successful community engagement projects.

30-Minute On-Demand Workshops

For individual educators looking for self-paced training and PD recertification, we also offer 30-minute, on-demand sessions.