Thursday, March 24, 2016

How to Keep Teacher PD Blooming Through Spring

By spring, the flowers blooming outside our windows have far more life than many of our PD initiatives. Teachers are tired and have eyes set on real-time classroom goals before summer. It’s a tricky time to get teams motivated to learn and implement new practices. However, spring is naturally a more social time of the year. Creating time and space for teachers to share learning with colleagues can capitalize on this sharing buzz in the air. Consider the following:

Make it Social:
  • Create a Pinterest Board or Facebook Group for teachers to post resources they love.
  • Set up a coffee chat book or article share, or establish a reading nook for teachers in the teachers’ lounge or library.
  • Dedicate a physical space where teachers can post what’s on their shelves for professional reading.
  • Find social PD opportunities in your local community. For example, where I am in NYC, the NY Historical Society hosts a regular professional learning series with pizza and wine for teachers, either free or significantly reduced. EdCamps are also fun, social “unconference”-style PD events.

Engage Trailblazers
  • As you make observations and classroom visits, make note of innovative practices in action. Ask these teachers to share a noteworthy practice in faculty meetings or the Facebook/Pinterest space.
  • Focus the spring on teachers observing teachers, taking the focus of observations from evaluative to inspirational. Create a list of teacher trailbrazers to observe matched with PD outcomes and a place for observers to share what they most valued or noticed from their observations. This can be done in the social space created or a Padlet board where teachers can offer shout-outs and tips they gained.
Catch & Share
  • Take the time to share the innovative practices you spot by capturing them in action. If your school has a social media feed, send pictures or video to the social media manager to post innovative, engaging teaching practices.
  • Consider a positive “Caught in the Act” share space in the teachers’ lounge or the online social space where you can share innovative practices you spot.
Focus on Engagement & Personalization
  •  As the school year winds down, offer more engaging PD experiences by focusing on hands-on, collaborative, or personalized PD.
  • Allow for teacher to choose their focus as much as possible, providing resources that enable such choice such as an online PD platform with a variety of experiences.
  • Use the school’s LMS or a PD platform to allow for learning to continue into the summer at a self-selected pace. Some tools, such as the Redbird Professional Learning Platform we use at my school, offer a social component which engages teachers in conversation and motivates users through a point incentive system.

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