Raise your hand if you are tired of sitting in auditoriums listening to someone lecture for your school district in-service. OK, now that everyone's hand is up, ask yourself--why, in 2018, is this still happening? With all that we know about engaging learners (students and teachers) why aren't we infusing more meaningful work into our professional learning?
Not to worry--there are lots of leaders out there who are hacking the traditional professional development model in favor of hands-on learning opportunities that are collaborative and fun! As I think about planning for some upcoming PD days in the new year I remember what it was like to sit in those auditorium seats as a teacher. I think about how easy it was to disengage, catch up on some reading, or play on my phone. We've all been there. Instead of draining our educators, let's take advantage of our time together and re-energize our teams during this cold and dreary time of year.
These three ideas might be the shift you need to plan professional learning that fuels your team.
Make it Hands-On
Over the course of the last year, our district has provided opportunities for teachers to learn skills in Maker Education that can be used to enhance instruction in their classrooms. Through our work with the Beaver County Innovation & Learning Consortium we have shared professional learning with two other area school districts. Our teams spent time learning about creating LED Wearables, using Virtual Reality in the classroom, and programming with robots through Bird Brain Technology . Hands-on learning engages teachers and creates practical applications to new learning.
Bring Teams Together
Try a team design challenge. With all that schools districts are doing to promote critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity with our students, we can't forget about developing this within our teachers. Going out of your comfort zones may be easier with friends and colleagues to support you. So build those spaghetti towers and tin foil boats! Work as a team to solve problems and learn together.
Connect it to Curriculum
Last spring, we opened our first elementary makerspace. YAY! In order to build capacity within our teachers, we offered workshops over the summer where teachers could come into the space and learn a new skill. While the skills in isolation were valuable, we also took time to connect this new learning to children's literature. Elementary teachers learned how to solder and weave. They became cardboard connoisseurs. Some collaborated on maker activities that connected to the Global Read Aloud. Others considered how their makerspace learning would enhance a story in their reading series or their favorite children's book. They explored ways that this hands-on learning fit into the existing curriculum.
So, whether you shake things up with a rock, paper, scissors tournament or a scavenger hunt, let's get our teams active and engaged during in-service. And while we are at it---can we call in-service something else? (I've never been a fan of that term.)
Consider how you might build camaraderie and bring teams together for some fun in the new year. Be sure that the professional learning aligns with the curriculum so that teachers can see exactly where the new learning fits in and equip them with some new skills to revitalize their lessons.
No more sitting and listening to lectures. Let's flip the traditional model of in-service (blah) training and remake our professional learning!
Need help with planning some upcoming professional learning? Is your team looking to engage teachers in hands-on workshops that build creativity and collaboration? Check out my workshops at www.steam-makers.com I'm booking now for summer workshops and keynotes.