Friday, June 28, 2013

5 Ways To Make Professional Development More Interesting

Originally posted by Ryan Schaaf on 

“Katie Lepi at Edudemic provides some easy suggestions for making professional development more interesting and engaging. Often times, teachers feel their time is wasted with such professional practices, so it is essential to try dynamic experiences and reach the doubters on your staff.”

Whether you call it professional development, faculty meetings, or in-service days, getting together with your teaching colleagues to meet about school happenings and curriculum can seem sometimes tedious, and for many, plain old not fun. But they’re a necessary part of being a teacher, and since they’re pretty inevitable, they might as well be as interesting as possible.
While most teachers have no direct control over what happens in a school faculty meeting, many administrators are (and we know you’re out there!), and hopefully, suggestions for teachers would be welcomed. Why not channel some of the energy you’ve used into making engaging activities for your classroom, and use them in the professional development arena? We’ve talked a little bit about using the flipped classroom model in professional development, but below, we have five (more general) suggestions for making professional development more interesting and engaging.


Time It Out

Give each topic a certain amount of discussion time, and each follow up question/answer a limited response time (such as 90 seconds). This helps keep everyone on topic and keeps the discussion moving along – and tends to also discourage/end long rants and such.

Flip Your Meeting

We’ve talked about flipping your PD in the past, but we still stand behind the idea that it can really work. Give out the agenda to the meeting ahead of time, and all participants should come prepared with both questions and materials, rather than just being passive listeners.

Give Everyone A Voice

In every group, there are those that are more than willing to not say a word, and those that are quite happy to take up the speaking time that the silent parties don’t want. Encourage everyone to speak – and make sure that everyone can speak uninterrupted to get their ideas across. See above tip, ‘Time It Out’, to help keep every speaker on track.

Use Technology

You’re using it in your classroom, why not use it in your professional development? Maybe you can Skype in a guest speaker to talk or under-the-weather staff member to listen and participate. Use a checklist or to-do app projected to keep track of the agenda for participants.

Be Hands On

There are always new technologies and tools being used – whether an entirely new to your classroom device like an iPad or a classroom management system, or a new app, taking some time to learn about how to use the tool is always useful. It sounds pretty obvious, but we’ve talked to a lot of teachers who are handed an iPad and simply told “here you go!”. Harness the knowledge of your colleagues and take a quick lesson from them – working in small groups would be ideal here so that everyone gets some hands on time.

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