Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Professional Development Day That Worked - A Recap


On Monday, something strange happened at BHS.  (See the graphic below)




Yes, a 97% approval rating from our teachers about a Professional Development Day!  The reason for this was simple.  We let our talented staff develop and choose their sessions for the day.

Step one:  A Google Document sent out to staff with three time slots to fill in with topics that teachers wanted to facilitate in the morning.  Feel free to copy it and use it for yourself.  There are tabs at the bottom for each of our district's schools.  At the high school, I also added a few presenters in areas where there was staff interest (i.e. Yolink, Mathcad software, Google Docs). One cool offering was actually a virtual session on Google Docs by Andy Marcinek (clip below).


Step Two: I created an overview sheet of the sessions with a link to a spreadsheet for teachers to put their names on so that we could make sure that each session would have enough seats to accommodate interested staff members.  In addition, it allowed me to have a reference to send to the Central Office to award Professional Development Points for each attendee at each session.

Step Three: Provide time for teachers to work on some of the things that they learned about at the sessions.  This happened after lunch.  While discussions and pointers were fresh in their minds, teachers were able to work with some of the new resources that they learned about or extend conversations on topics.  (In the picture below, three members of our Science Dept. stopped by my desk in the lobby for help building their PLN's on Twitter.)



Step Four:  Follow-up. While one day with excellent feedback is a good start, we need to ensure that Professional Development is not something that only happens during PD days that are dropped into our schedule a few times a year.  We will be offering sessions during the school day on topics that teachers request throughout the year. In addition, we will use much of our faculty meeting time this year to also hold breakouts on topics that teachers choose rather than meeting and going over a laundry list of items.

Final Thoughts: This day worked because it was designed by teachers for teachers.  I have heard more positive feedback on this day than any other PD I have ever been a part of.  I keep wondering why we didn't take our PD in this direction a lot earlier.  If we want classrooms where we are teaching students to be collaborative and more proactive in their learning, don't we have to set up a culture where we trust teachers to do the same?

13 comments:

  1. This sounds absolutely fabulous. I love the format and the time to internalize learning during the afternoon. Congrats on a successful day!

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  2. Kudos to you and your teachers, Patrick, for owning this day. Very inspiring!

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  3. I enjoyed our PD Day immensely. I find it very beneficial when we get together as a department and work on materials and tools collaboratively. I loved working in our recently updated language lab. A few of us had gone to WPI this summer for a seminar on Audacity and Skype, Our professor / instuctor from WPI came to BHS to give us more insight and instruction on Audacity and Skype. I really benefited from the one-on-one training. It was as if we had a personal tech trainer.
    I agree with the speaker who said that tech is a part of the classroom and not the whole classroom. I have been employing more of it my classroom this year because I'm more confident and experienced with it now. But,initially, I have to have a great lesson plan which will maximize my students' learning prior to using technology. Technology is a great tool through which I execute my lesson plans.

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  4. Great! It sounds better than ours http://bit.ly/cPuVjv because you allowed time for teachers to work on what they had learned in the morning. Will take that on board for next time, thanks!

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  5. As a presenter, I enjoyed the format immensely. The teachers seemed relaxed and engaged, really ready to make the day productive. Excellent work Principal Larkin and Burlington HS.

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  6. Thanks to everyone for the positive comments! I forgot to mention how much easier it is for teachers to share resources since they all got laptops this year. Everywhere they go, they have access to all of their documents and resources at their fingertips.

    I am so excited to continue this model throughout the year.

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  7. This is a great PD model - Thanks for sharing!

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  8. I was honored to present at this professional development day at BHS and am excited to see the positive feedback. This IS what a day of professional development should look like. I always wondered why we, as educators, placed such an emphasis on differentiated instruction, but never carried that model over to our own professional development. Applying the unconference model to a day of professional development will produce positive outcomes and promote new types of learning in the classroom. Teachers are not being talked to, they are doing the talking and participating in the process. Kudos to BHS and Patrick Larkin for making this day happen. I look forward to hearing about future successes with this model!

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  9. Nice work. I wanted to see this happen in our district. Why do admins feel that everything has to be scheduled for it to be valuable? Comes down to not trusting professionals to be professional. Your faculty is fortunate that you think differently.

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  10. When is BHS next PD and the bigger question, is it available for outside teachers/districts to attend?

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  11. This is kind of like edcamp for pro-d! I love it. Next week I am leading a pro-d session (unfortunately at a traditional pro-d conference) on building your PLN through twitter. Do you have resources you recommend?

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  12. This is kind of like edcamp for pro-d! I love it. Next week I am leading a pro-d session (unfortunately at a traditional pro-d conference) on building your PLN through twitter. Do you have resources you recommend?

    ReplyDelete