PD À la carte


A few years ago I approached the administration in our district about bringing an EdCamp model of professional development to our staff. They wanted to give it a try for one of the few workshop days we have. They designed a mini-conference-style day of professional development where teachers were offered a menu of sessions ahead of time that they sign up for sandwiched between keynotes to kick off and wrap up. It has proved to be very popular and meaningful to staff.

Yesterday was one of those workshop days. It was also the first time I didn’t have to present and could just be a participant.  I loved it!  My choices were quite wide ranging…and probably would not have even been on my radar a few years ago.

We started with a keynote ‘Responding to and Preventing Bullying’ that stressed the importance of intervening-even when we don’t know the ‘right’ thing to say.  Speaking up with respectful interventions and breaking the pattern of escalation is essential. The speakers intent was to open our eyes to how students experience coming to school in which hateful language and bias is prevalent and our role to awaken the empathy that allows it to exist.

Preventing Bullying Sketchnotes

ACTIVE SHOOTER simulations. This is a PD I hope I’ll never have to use, but was grateful to our local police department for offering it.  What would I have done if  was at Columbine or Sandy Hook? I don’t know, but I have a better sense of awareness and options to consider, now.  We experienced 3 real-life scenarios that happened in schools and then debriefed on what occurred and what we might do in those situations. It’s training teachers should never have to experience, but our world is changing so fast and guns are far too prevalent for us to bury our heads in the sand.

Another way our ‘local world’ is changing is with the influx of more and more immigrants and refugee students. A session on supporting English Language Learners was incredibly enlightening. Understanding why it is important for their entire family to acculturate together, the ‘affect of filter’ on learning, and cultural considerations that can impact our relationships with student were eye opening. I am more in awe of the challenges and courage of these families and I’m more determined than ever to support them.

After a session on Movie Maker (our school took away our Macs and replaced them with PCs so I felt like a novice again!) I think I can once again create teaching videos to share with staff.  We then ended with a keynote on Happiness Hacking. By the end of the day on a Friday we were already feeling pretty happy, but any tips for inviting more into my life is always welcome.

If your school district hasn’t tried this format for professional development, I encourage you to look into it and suggest it to the powers that be.  We differentiate for our students, why not differentiate for our teachers as well?  We are all learners. We all want some choice in what we learn! I’m proud of our district for recognizing and honoring that.

16 thoughts on “PD À la carte

  1. Hooray for EdCamp style! I went to EdCamp Boston last Saturday (my 2nd time) and loved it. It’s fun not knowing what’s going up on the board until it’s there. Sounds like you had quite a range of choices! Thanks for sharing the experience, and hopefully you’ve inspired some people to lobby for this format of PD.

  2. There’s so much great stuff in here! Happiness Hacking!! Your sketchnotes, I’m so jealous of your amazing technique! I love the idea of an EdCamp style of PD. It sounds like it was a huge success!

  3. OK, this is awesome! So glad your district did this. I agree that teachers need differentiation, just like our students do. Also, your note-taking skills are really rad!! Love them! 🙂

  4. Great ideas shared here, Paula. The simulation is scary! We offered choice workshops at the last couple PD days, so there’s some movement toward EdCamp. It’s definitely a process of putting out ideas and nudging people toward them. Choice is such an important part of learning!

  5. I love this! It is a lot of work to organize but the payoff is so worth it! Nothing is worse than sitting in PD that feels like a waste of time. Hope this continues for you!

  6. Personalized learning is important for engagement. Bravo to you for bringing it forward to your district. I just remember sitting in PD about close reading using a book that’d I’d already read and had taken a class for on my own. I still had take aways, but if I’d had a choice I would have learned something new. Great way to end your PD day with happiness hacking. It all sounds very relevant.

  7. Three cheers for EdCamp! We hosted a public EdCamp on the Whole Child, and have hd various “in house” EdCamps as well. One of our elementary schools organized an EdCamp with the kids as an opportunity for them to share their Genius Hour projects. It’s all about choice, which leads to self-directed learning, which is empowering!

  8. Our assistant superintendent is offering teachers the opportunity to propose an incubation lab PD year. They spend the year incubating an idea collaboratively. The “catch” is to them implement in the classroom and then coach others to try out the idea in their own classrooms.Teachers learning through their own voice and choice is so powerful.

  9. Fantastic Pro D. We are wanting to organize something like this in the next year. I was surprised about the Active Shooter scenarios – I had seen a photo in your twitter feed. I get the necessary but wow . . .

  10. Remember it is not the prevalence of guns, but the prevalence of misuse. In my day, guns went to school with students even on buses. There were rifle clubs. No one got hurt. Just saying. I do think we need to learn strategies for keeping safe. At the risk of opening myself up to… I think there should be a gun IN my classroom. I know how to use one. Safely. And I haven’t shot anyone that has been around me. And there have been plenty.
    Imagine being able to protect just one child.

  11. I was just talking about this format for PD with one of my teacher friends. Now I have this post as a reference.

  12. This sounds like a great day of PD for your district. We are always looking for ways to increase and engage teachers in PD…this would for sure be a great way.

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