Make your Professional Development Meaningful and Relevant to the Participants.

When you think of professional development, what first comes to mind?


When I first lead a PD session it was awful. I was nervous, it was boring and I just was not as confident as I wanted to be. To be quite honest I can talk in front of hundreds of kids in the room and I feel great. However, you get me in front of a room full of teachers and I shut down. I rushed through the content, stuttered my words and just ugh...I was ready for it to be over.  After years of leading many PD sessions, I have learned some tips to create a successful PD session and this session reaffirmed them.

The session I attended the second day at the SC EdTech conference affirmed what teachers want the in professional development. They want...
  • It offers voice/choice: Teachers have different needs especially when they teach different content and grade levels. If you don’t know where to start or what they want, perhaps surveying your teachers would be a first step for you.
  • Make it relevant for their students.
  • Have a take away: Teachers want to be able to use it right away.
  • Innovative: Make it something new and worthwhile for the teachers.
  • Creative: Get the teachers creating something, making an example or creating that lesson. It can be their takeaway
  • Collaborative/sharing: Teachers can get some great ideas from each other, build upon those conversations and develop something even stronger if they can work collaboratively. Add in some time for this

There were a couple of other strategies that the presenter suggested to help make your professional development a success...
~ Flip the Professional Development
  • Give the content to the teachers prior to the learning session on a learning platform, such as Google Classroom. Make the have the face to face interactive, practical and the teachers walk away with the something to use right away.

~ Look at your delivery method
  • Make it interactive. Here are a couple of resources that are commonly used in a PD session.
    • Kahoot - Get to know what your participants may already know about the content. It can be used as a pre-assessment
    • Backchanneling - Creating conversations about the content or ask questions about the topics as the presenter is talking.
    • Poll Everywhere Live interactive website to poll participants on the topic
    • Padlet - Share ideas and add comments as the presenter is speaking.

~ Get feedback on your session, Look at it to determine how you can modify the professional development and make those improvements. We have implemented feedback for our bi-monthly meetings and our team REALLY work towards improving the trainings with our coaches. We listen to our coaches and strive to give them what they want so they are coming to our meetings ready and anxious to be there.

What can you do to improve your professional development offerings? Which one new strategy could you implement? And, while you plan your next PD  think about this ... Would you want to be a participant in your own session?


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