Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these [teachers] from the swift completion of their [PD]. You may be thinking of mail couriers, but this motto is also one used by an innovative technology and instructional coach in Iowa, who sees bad weather as a great opportunity to learn in a fun way.

Though teachers are often expected to make learning fun and engaging for their students, too often these same teachers are not given the same exciting opportunities for PD.

But Rachel Langenhorst, K-12 Technology Integrationist and Instructional Coach in Rock Valley, IA, is setting out to change that. Langenhorst, who was interviewed on Education Talk Radio for edWeb.net‘s monthly show by Program Host Larry Jacobs, talked about how her district recently held a PJ PD Day during an unexpected snow storm.

Talking to both Jacobs and Lisa Schmucki, edWeb founder, Langenhorst said the teacher-leadership team in Rock Valley had already planned for a full day of professional development, but had to quickly rethink their plans when the forecast called for a snowstorm. “Our days are very valuable…we didn’t want that to go to waste. We wanted to make sure we could use our time wisely,” she said.

A Rock Valley teacher participating PJ PD Day.

According to Langenhorst, her district team meets frequently to discuss PD plans, and during a past meeting the idea of a pajama PD day was brought up. However, this was something that required just the right opportunity to implement.

The day before the storm, the idea was reintroduced. With approval from the superintendent and a lot of re-working the next day’s plans, the pajama PD day was quickly put together.

(Next page: How Rock Valley managed to pull off their PJ PD day)

How did Rock Valley pull this off with such little time? The idea was introduced early in the morning, leaving enough time to get approval quickly from the superintendent. The teachers were then immediately notified of the plans for the pajama PD day and told that instructions with links would come to them via email.

The district used the app and website, Nearpod, which allowed them to upload slides with audio, video, and website links. They also used Google Docs and the district’s community on edWeb.net to answer questions and collaborate with each other.

According to Langenhorst, “You don’t want delivery methods (of PD) that are constant every time; otherwise, you will get teachers that are sick of it.” This new delivery method of PD was refreshing and fun, said the teachers—and with Snapchats, social media posts, texts, and phone calls, the response to the pajama PD day was overwhelmingly positive.

As for pajama PD in the future, the teachers said are already looking forward to the next snow day.

About the Guest

Rachel Langenhorst is a K-12 technology integrationist and instructional coach in Rock Valley, IA and she also serves as an adjunct professor for Northwestern College. A 20+ year teaching veteran, Rachel presents throughout the Midwest, focusing on technology integration strategies and best practices. She serves as a contributor for Mackin Educational Resources, edWeb.net, and Education Talk Radio. Find Rachel on Twitter @rlangenhorst and on her blog at Tech from the Trenches.

For more ideas on personalized PD, watch “Implementing a Personalized PD Program in Your District.”

[Editor’s note: This piece is original content produced by edWeb.net. View more edWeb.net events here.]

About the Author:

Meris Stansbury

Meris Stansbury is the Editorial Director for both eSchool News and eCampus News, and was formerly the Managing Editor of eCampus News. Before working at eSchool Media, Meris worked as an assistant editor for The World and I, an online curriculum publication. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2006 with a BA in English, and enjoys spending way too much time either reading or cooking.