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Jul 28

What Really Makes Staff Development “Good” ?

You must admit…there have been staff development activities provided for you that have brought you close to narcolepsy and others that challenged you, had you taking notes on the margins of the handouts and leaving you ready and eager to return to your building and share the concepts with your staff. Your teachers are the same, so what can you do to best prepare interesting and worthwhile staff development that will make them sit up, participate and be really ready to practice what you are “preaching”?

Listed below are a few guidelines to help your staff development change from “Oh No, not another one” to” Oh Yea!  We can do that!”

Choice

Everybody likes choices, right?  Aren’t we keeping to a pretty narrow-minded view of learning if it’s only presented in a “one means to
an end” fashion? Teachers need choices about what they’re interested in, passionate about, and what matches their readiness level. These choices can be given as a traditional model of professional development, in which teachers attend a class/workshop on a
specified date and time and have to physically be in attendance. Alternatively, choices could be given in the form of online learning via screen-casts, live webinars or social media. The point is to offer choice and in turn allow whatever choice teachers make to be credited as a viable means of professionaldevelopment.

Value

What types of learning elicit value? Fill in this blank:Learning is valuable to me when _____. If teachers are going to invest time in
professional learning, whether it be face to face or online, voluntary or involuntary, we all want to finish feeling it was valuable. When you facilitate professional development, do you have a set agenda and plan in place? Can you ever intentionally or unintentionally deviate from the plan? Certainly…let teachers know that this is their learning and you want them to feel the time together was valuable. If that means detours are taken and even some things arerepeated so be it. All students, regardless of age, to feel the value in what they’re learning.

Support

Once you have inspired, challenged and even dazzled your staff with new methods, concepts or ways to even just make life in the classroom easier, then what do your teachers do afterwards if they need help?  Occasionally after learning a new skill or process for teaching, questions arise that did not come up during a presentation. This is good news as it means teachers are thinking and planning rather than just setting the plan “on the shelf.”  Be prepared to respond to questions, model best practices if needed and encourage teachers to use the new ideas and modify them as needed to suit the needs of their students.

Staff development can be fraught with peril or it can be a positive and helpful experience.  Think of your past SD’s that you have listened to and put yourself in your staff’s shoes when you plan these activities. You will make the right choice.