Non-Traditional PD Opportunities

Knowing teachers are tired and have a lot on their plate, I am looking for non-traditional ways you have been successful in engaging teachers in professional development opportunities.

9 replies

January 28, 2023

I have had success aiming for timely, intentional, and small bites of professional learning. Sharing three thoughts to hopefully inspire you:

  • Recently, we offered after school sessions on how to utilize materials the educators already have, but may have forgotten about or not realized they have, to support students in need of intervention or enrichment. I shared specific examples of activities with which their students can engage that could be implemented immediately. The ideas I provided could be replicated over the course of the unit/topic. The educators appreciated that I brought them a solution to a problem they were experiencing - how to support the variety of students' academic needs in the classroom. The timeliness was important here. They also have a relationship with me, professionally, so they trusted that if they invested their time in these sessions, they would get something out of it.
  • I attend team planning meetings when they reach out and have a need they are struggling to fulfill. I present ideas in graduated complexity - I start with a simple thought that may be easiest to implement, then go to strategies that may really shake up their classroom. I have had many educators experience willingness to try something I share based on my relationship with them (they trust me) and their needs in the classroom. I have also modeled activities or lessons on the fly when they ask. When my educators are vulnerable enough to ask me to show them how to do something, I always do with patience and kindness because I know what it takes to admit they don't understand.
  • I love to amplify the voices of other educators to influence others. I have interviewed educators and shared on a podcast. I was pleasantly surprised how many educators listened and reached out about what they learned from their peers. I have also used panel discussions during professional learning sessions. The educators have been willing to share their struggles and successes and those in the audience have listened and taken notes on the edge of their seats.

February 09, 2023

Thank you for the feedback! I will definitely try the tips.

February 14, 2023

I agree with a lot of what Mary Kemper mentioned above. Timely and manageable chunks have worked for us, along with self-paced PD.

  • Self-Paced PD - We offer self-paced PD courses that teachers can work through, and are continuing to build these out to expand next year. They involve working through content, sharing examples, submitting reflections, etc. Teachers can schedule time with a coach for feedback/co-teaching/observations if they are interested.
  • Timely newsletter - We try to make our newsletter as unlike a newsletter as possible. We chalk it full of small chunks of helpful information for teachers and administrators, that are important to know *now*. ex) We don't include anything involving the test until March.
  • Means of sharing - We try to reach our teachers where they are. We have a YouTube channel, Facebook page, Instagram, an instructional practice blog, and newly this year: a podcast. We hope that through those channels, we reach everyone somewhere.

February 14, 2023

Our district is offering Lunch N Learns and Breakfast Bytes for our staff. These are 30 minute monthly sessions. We provide some type of food and dress down days for participating.

We have many asynchronous courses developed in our LMS, Canvas. They range from 1 - 6 hours depending on the content. They are used as part of our Summer Trade Day program and for inservice days throughout the year.

I also recently developed a Tech Integration Monthly Challenge. Our goal was for the teachers who are using the iPad to transform learning to share and then also allow for others to grow and learn how to use the tool. I also wanted to allow for voice and choice from the teachers as a model they can use in their own classrooms. I decided to incentive it to help with the participation.

March 21, 2023

I would LOVE to hear about your Canvas courses! I am looking for uses for our "Summer Trade Day" as you call it. I was looking for a name for mine as well! Love this! Would you share your email address so I can contact you! Or email me?


March 21, 2023

As an innovation coach working for CMatash, I can say the above options are picking up steam among teachers. They like the flexibility of asynchronous courses and the options that are available to them.

February 14, 2023

Something that I have had success with this school year is peer observations and learning labs! I have outlined the structure below.

Peer Observations: Teachers will come with me and observe other in district iPad rockstars. Sometimes these correlate with their content area, and sometimes it is a close match. They will just watch and take notes about what they liked and what they have questions about/want to know more about. This is a starting point for a great debriefing conversation at the end of the experience.

Learning Lab: This looks similar to peer observations, except that it will be in three main parts. They get a pre-brief meeting to let them know what they are going to be watching. Then they get to observe me co-teaching with a teacher. Finally, teachers will have a debrief time where they can ask me specific questions about what they saw/liked. I usually repeat this process several times for them. Then, at the end of the time together, we will work to make a innovative plan for something coming up in their curriculum.

I like both of these options because they can see concrete examples in action. It also is personalized to what each teacher needs.

March 01, 2023

These are great ideas!! Thank you all for sharing!

March 07, 2023

I am feeling your sentiment as well. Some of the most successful PD that I have been in recently has been from teachers. I'm tasked with running/organizing PD at school sites and I try to get a mix of veteran and new teachers who have even ONE good lesson or strategy that I think should be shared with the community. I like running PD in stations - even if there isn't enough time to get to all stations they are about 10-15 minutes, they give an easily digestible piece of information, and hopefully the teachers in the PD walk way with something they can utilize in the classroom. Teachers who attend these PD sessions are grateful because so many times we have a presenter flown in from a far away place with a different student population and when the PD is coming from in house it highlights the presenting teachers and inspires the attendees.

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