10 Ways to Make Professional Development Worth It

Professional development has always been difficult for educators. The best teachers are not always the best students. But is it really our fault? We all (sadly) have experience sitting through ineffective training.

We have almost all come to accept that PD is just one of those things that we have to endure that may or may not be worth the time and energy it costs us. To add insult to injury, technology changes so quickly that it seems absolutely impossible to keep up with it…much less in a classroom where other demands are brutal!

What if we treated PD not only as valuable but CRITICAL to the successful and rigorous implementation of technology in the classroom? So much so that we were willing to try new things to make it work?

We often ask and expect our kids to think critically about the “whys” and “how’s.” Why don’t we do more of this for ourselves?

Here are some suggestions that just might turn your PD sessions into more than you ever expected they could be:

  1. Turn “free online resources” into group PD opportunities. Utilize videos, online tutorials and quick start guides to create technology PLCs focused on specific classroom technologies.
  2. Offer “prizes” for completing expected sessions. Ask vendors and partners to provide software, hardware or gift cards and generate some healthy competition among teachers to participate.
  3. Encourage teachers to create their own “2 minute tutorials” featuring technology and your district’s instructional priorities. Set up a “recording studio” and encourage production of the videos and then provide an online space to share them with others. Flip your PD, not just your classroom!
  4. Focus on the “tips and tricks” of your new technology. Try to stay away from button pushing PD sessions and instead utilize specific tools to engage students AND teachers.
  5. “Make and Take” sessions are always popular and encourage teachers by utilizing their time to actually create lessons. Make sure to provide technical support for these sessions.
  6. Start a User’s Group for new classroom technologies. Encourage your vendors to participate and provide snacks and prizes. Keep them short and right after school.
  7. Offer teaming and co-teaching opportunities that aren’t limited to grade-level and content areas.
  8. Model best practices. Use the technology tools you expect your teachers to use in meetings and staff development.
  9. Get student participation. Ask students to develop “PD Sessions” for teachers utilizing the software and hardware they want to use in the classroom!
  10. Follow up! Set specific appointment times to see the results in person-in classroom.

Thinking outside the box about your PD may get you better results and in shorter amounts of time for less cost. Now that I have your attention: try one new thing. Now. Don’t wait. Do as I say AND as I do!

Get quick and simple PD when you subscribe to SMART Learning Suite. You’ll be up and trying at least one new thing in no time.

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Christy Rogers
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About Christy Rogers

Christy Rogers is the Education Solutions Manager for SMART in the Mississippi Valley. She has worked to help districts successfully implement SMART in their classrooms for five years in both the Mid-Atlantic and Mississippi Valley. Prior to her role at SMART, she was responsible for instructional technology PD for DC Public Schools under Michelle Rhee. Christy has also worked for Blackboard and Discovery Education. Christy lives in Birmingham, AL, with her dog (Hachi Bear) and cat (Macy Gray) where she cheers wildly for the Crimson Tide, enjoys the BBQ and long, hot summer. Roll Tide, y’all.

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10 thoughts on “10 Ways to Make Professional Development Worth It

  1. Excellent suggestion especially #’s 1, 3 and 9. Admin should read this and then include weekly Preps to practice new skills and create new lessons.

  2. Excellent suggestion especially #’s 1, 3 and 9. Admin should read this and then include weekly Preps to practice new skills and create new lessons.

  3. Excellent suggestion especially #’s 1, 3 and 9. Admin should read this and then include weekly Preps to practice new skills and create new lessons.

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