Illustration by Edpuzzle Staff
According to a report from the Gates Foundation, only 29% of teachers are satisfied with their professional development options. Considering that schools already spend a lot of money on these sessions, something needs to change.
Although we as educators consider ourselves experts in pedagogy, these principles tend to get forgotten when it’s time to plan a professional development session.
If we remember that teachers are also learners, we can keep in mind several guidelines to help them grow professionally.
Feeling inspired to revamp your PD? Here are seven ways to turn your PD into the exciting and engaging learning transactions you want them to be!
1. Allow for Choice
The traditional workshop, in the form of a lecture or presentation, continues to be the most common form of professional development. Over 80% of schools report using this style of professional development.
But if we know that lectures aren’t the best way to educate our students, why do we continue to use this form of professional development for our teachers?
Instead of reading off a PowerPoint that could just be emailed, create more interactive experiences. There are lots of new and different PD structures out there to try!
The PLC (personalized learning community) and coaching are two popular and innovative ways to track teachers’ growth. Both structures prioritize classroom observations so that teachers can ask questions and get constructive feedback.
You also don’t need to just choose one model! If you try more than one, chances are there will be something that suits everybody.
2. Make It Flexible
It’s no surprise that teachers are super busy and making space for PD is tricky. Between lesson planning, parent conferences and grading, there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day!
Even when teachers do have the time for professional development built into their schedule, they might not find it to be a productive use of their time. Make PD an attractive option by giving teachers the freedom to do it when they can.
Online teacher PD lets teachers get their necessary credits at their own pace. Teachers can do the required modules on their own time and then submit evidence of completion to their administrators.
Remember that a more impactful PD, is linked by a common theme. Doing PD online allows for learning to be an ongoing process, with multiple short sessions, that builds over time and that goes into depth.
3. Personalize It
Remember, we’re not robots. We don’t learn things in one go. Teachers learn in different ways and the structure of a PD should reflect that by being personalized to their needs.
A veteran teacher might not need to review the same concepts that a first-year teacher would. Every teacher comes with a different set of problems and challenges they are having in the classroom.
Don’t know what your teachers want to work on in PD? Just ask them! Teachers can personalize their own PD by communicating what their needs are and focusing on them.
4. Make Sure the Trainer Is Qualified
Sure, it’s easy to find a noted specialist to come talk at your teachers for an hour. But no matter how much of an expert they are in their field, they might not know how to apply that expertise in a classroom.
A qualified PD trainer should have classroom experience and know what a teacher’s day to day is like. Teachers naturally trust other teachers and value learning more when it comes from someone like them.
Teachers also want to be treated like professionals and not like children. A trainer that knows what it’s like to be a teacher is also less likely to talk down to teachers.
5. Encourage Collaboration
It’s impossible for one individual teacher to know everything they need to teach each class. That’s why teachers understand the value of collaboration. Sharing materials, lesson plans and resources is a key part of the teaching community.
PD is a great time to encourage collaboration. Give teachers the time and the tools to share their resources and think through problems together.
It also allows teachers to interact with their colleagues of different subjects and grade levels. Your chemistry-teaching colleague, for example, could have the answer to solving your classroom management dilemma!
6. Use Video
Teachers already heavily use online resources for planning and delivering instruction, so why not give them the same option? Using video in PD is the next logical step in opening your teachers to a new world of knowledge.
We tend to think that watching video is a very passive action, but it can actually be very interactive! With Edpuzzle you can embed questions, voiceover and notes to check for understanding.
Edpuzzle is great for structuring online PD because it gives your teachers the freedom to personalize what they choose to work on and the flexibility to do it on their own time. We offer a range of certification classes in relevant and modern-day topics.
7. Focus on the Takeaways
A fun and informative PD session gets you excited about trying new things. The last thing you want is to learn about a new tool or curriculum and not be completely sure about how to immediately use it in the classroom.
Make sure teachers can walk out of PD with new skills and resources that they can practice within two weeks of completing that class.
Are your teachers learning about a concrete skill, like how to use Edpuzzle? Give them time to assign their first video as homework for their students.
Or maybe you want your next teacher PD to be about flipping your classroom. Ask your teachers to write about how they plan to integrate these principles into their next unit.
With these 7 keys to success, you’re sure to have a quality PD that not only excites but also inspires your teachers! Start planning your next session and consider how Edpuzzle could help you.