For the past five years I have worked as my school’s Technology Coordinator. During these five years I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about how to lead an effective professional development session. Today I wanted to share five suggestions that I would give anyone who is going to be leading a PD session. Keep in mind this list is constantly changing based on the needs of the learner.
Give participants time to play.
As teachers we are constantly being told less teacher talking and more student work time. So why is it that we flip this when it comes to tech pd? I may be biased to the concept of play being a member of the Playdate LA team, but I really do believe that playtime is crucial to getting teacher buy in. Playing with a tool/concept gives teachers time to experiment, ask questions, and brain storm ways that they could use it in their classroom. So less talking and more playing!
Provide resources that can be accessed after your session.
Share your presentation, share a list of links, share examples, share anything that teachers can access after your session to help recall what you have taught them. During an engaging session the last thing on my mind is “Hey I should take notes on this!”. People also tend to forget some of the smaller details so having something to reference after is always nice. I personally either create a shared Google folder or a shared note in Evernote where I give participants my slide presentation, helpful documents, and a list of other resource links.
Bring in student examples if possible.
When presented with new concepts I have heard some teachers say “Yeah that’s great in theory but it would never work for my kids!” The best way to approach this is to share with them actual student work samples. Showing your participants that this type of work is possible takes away some of the fear of failure.
Showcase teachers who are already using the tool/concept.
When I have presented tools in the past at my school I have heard “But your the tech guy. Of course you can do this.” To try and dispel this myth I have started to highlight some of the great work that my coworkers are doing. This has served two fold because it is shows that anyone can incorporate technology in their lessons and we are identifying tool specific leaders. Having tool specific leaders is a great way to motivate not only the leader but also the other teachers.
Be prepared to follow up with participants.
If you are lucky enough to stay in contact with the participants after the session ends make sure you follow up with them. Following up shows that you care about the participants, reminds them about the tool/concept, and allows you an opportunity to offer support. Following up with someone can be something as simple as a quick check in during lunch, a quick classroom observation, or email.
If you have anything you would like to add to my list feel free to leave a comment below. I am always looking to better myself so I’d love to hear what works for you!