Lunch and learn
This works much like Tech Tuesday, giving teachers a relevant topic or resource during their lunch time. Believe it or not, many teachers are quite willing to volunteer their lunch period to learn about a new topic or instructional strategy. Have participants bring their lunch or order a pizza for those participating. Keep it informal and be sure to share a great resource or lesson idea that teachers can take back to their classroom immediately.
Edcamp as district PD
Earlier this year our district conducted our first Edcamp and the response among teachers and staff members was overwhelming. Our version of Edcamp gave educators choice in what they wanted to learn about, while providing strategies that were classroom ready the next day. Some teachers learned about the calming effects of yoga on students in the classroom, while many took advantage of sessions offered on various technology resources. Sessions are not too long, and educators are free to move around and explore at any time. In fact, we offered a variety of sessions led by district teachers who shared their expertise with grateful colleagues.
5 minute PD or 15 minute PD
Another idea that we have experimented with is finding even shorter timeframes to expand teacher knowledge. By sparing just five minutes, teachers can learn about a new resource or strategy in order to incorporate it into their classrooms. As we started implementing Google Apps for Education last year, we wanted to provide teachers with a quick resource to help guide them. We sent out five minute videos that explained how to use a particular feature or perform a certain function. The 15 minutes that teachers were required to be present before and after school also helped in regard to teacher training. When installing interactive projectors last year, we offered 15 minute PD, when teachers could quickly learn how to utilize a particular function of the interactive projector software, or even take a few minutes to explore a new website. Every little minute counts, and these informal sessions provided teachers with the support they needed in order to be successful.
As many connected educators are aware, the benefits of Twitter as an on-demand form of PD are immeasurable. Our district recently took advantage of this, completing a book study of “Teach Like A Pirate” using a Twitter chat. Teachers new to Twitter were introduced to the concept of a Twitter chat, study questions were shared prior to the chat each week, and teachers joined on Monday evenings at 8 pm. The greatest benefit of the evening chat was that educators were able to join in from wherever they were—at the soccer field, in front of the TV, or even while on line at the grocery store (which actually happened on a few occasions).
In order for professional development to be effective, it must be designed to engage teachers on relevant topics that meet their various needs. Educators must take advantage of every opportunity to continue their professional learning, using non-traditional timeframes to develop their craft and practice.
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