As principal of a middle school, I meet weekly with teachers and school counselors to discuss team and department progress of our students. I know that teachers—tasked with helping students achieve and dealing with adolescents—can quickly become energy depleted, even disenfranchised, seeing slow progress for the most at-risk and time-consuming among our students.
The middle of the year is cold, the holidays are over, and we are looking at the high-pressure demands of preparing students for standardized testing. This can feel overwhelming and make the most positive teacher feel less enthusiastic. Against this seemingly insurmountable backdrop, we’ve come up with a way to revitalize teachers: MicroPD!
It’s fairly standard belief that professional development (PD) must go deeper than the one-and-done workshop; it must be more sustained, more relevant, and offer tangible takeaways. That’s why we conduct monthly PD meetings. These 25-minute PD sessions tend to be informative, offer takeaways, and elicit teacher input. Therefore, teachers generally enjoy them. However, as the midyear approached, we seemed to need more.
I decided to try something based on some research I had done on the impact of short bursts of rejuvenating practices. Here’s the premise: Offer a five- to eight-minute invigorating opportunity for teachers to benefit from a practice that helps them bond. Think of this like an infusion to help teachers through the hard parts.
I wasn’t sure how the teachers would respond, but I had to try. If it didn’t work, we would bury it in the worst failures of the Mike Gaskell Graveyard.
The 5-Minute MicroPD
Here’s how it works
- Introduce the concept: “Today, we’re going to try something reenergizing, since it’s mid-year and we’re all struggling with ongoing student problems, difficult parents, etc.
- Read a team-building quote and have teachers reflect on it for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Next, ask each team member to share how the quote applies to his or her team.
- Last, I share my own contribution.