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Creating a Professional Development Activity in Your School

Creating a Professional Development Activity in Your School

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Author: Jody Waltman
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In this lesson, students evaluate the types of professional development activities they can lead at their sites.

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In this tutorial, we'll explore some ways in which you might be able to create a professional development activity at your school. We'll begin with an overview of teacher-led professional development activities. And then we'll look at some specific teacher-led PD formats. Finally, I'll share some practical considerations you may wish to consider. Let's get started.

Let's begin with an overview of teacher-led professional development activities. Even though individual teachers may not have the opportunity to be involved in making decisions about or in leading building-wide or district-wide professional development in their particular settings, most teachers probably do have the opportunity to lead more informal professional development learning opportunities in their school buildings. In fact, this practice of peer-to-peer learning or peer-to-peer sharing is becoming more common in United States schools.

This more informal teacher-led professional development is a really powerful option, because it is aligned to all of the different learning theories that we've covered throughout this course-- the adult learning theories like adragogy and self-directed learning and transformational learning, along with the other research-based theories, like social learning theory and situated learning theory and networked learning theory.

An opportunity for teacher-led professional development will often be inspired by a teacher-identified need. For example, a teacher may determine that he or she wants to learn some new strategies in order to meet the unique learning needs of the students in the classroom.

Or a teacher might identify a need for support in meeting the goals that are set in the school's teacher evaluation model. Or a teacher might identify a need for additional training in order to work towards the objectives that are identified in a site-based initiative. Sometimes the need for additional professional development might be the result of conversations that happened through peer observations.

And so all of these different inspirations create opportunities for teacher-led professional development that will allow teachers to share with one another and to learn from one another. And this is also, again, really powerful because this teacher-led professional development helps to open our eyes to the unique strengths of our colleagues. And this can help us to understand the value of the unique experiences and areas of expertise that all of us bring with us to our job, to our everyday work environment.

So what are some specific teacher-led professional development formats that you might consider? Really, teacher-led PD can be informally held within all types of contexts. For example, you can lead discussions with your colleagues either in person or via a social network website or app.

You can create and share flipped professional development lessons with your peers. You can invite your peers to observe your classroom instructional practices. You could lead workshops for others in your team where each of you would take turns volunteering to lead these little mini workshops or mini "unconferences."

You could host a "book talk" that is focused on a particular instructional strategy. Also, this could be wrapped into that context of a flipped lesson, as long as it does incorporate some opportunities for that important peer-to-peer dialogue on the topic.

You could host an informal "lunch and learn" meeting. These are quick, little workshops that are either presented by an individual teacher or that are presented using an online video or tutorial or webinar.

And this definitely is not an exhaustive list. There are so many different ways that teachers can informally conduct these types of peer-to-peer, teacher-led professional development opportunities. No matter what format you choose, remember that teachers often learn best from other teachers. And in this self-directed approach to professional development, we are working together to improve our instructional competencies while, at the same time, supporting each other in the process.

If you do decide to pursue the creation of a professional development activity in your school, here are some practical considerations that apply to teacher-led professional development. First, you'll want to check with your administration before you begin this process of developing and implementing a professional development opportunity.

Also, remember that the most effective professional development is ongoing. And so you are going to want to, if possible, revisit the topic later. Include follow-up activities in your professional development plan, again, after you have the approval from the administration to move forward.

So this revisiting or the follow-up might include self-reflection journals or peer-to-peer observations or peer feedback or maybe tracking through the use of teacher evaluation rubrics. Just any method that would support revisiting the topic and keeping it fresh in everyone's minds as you work on maintaining it as an ongoing professional development opportunity.

So here's the chance for you to stop and reflect. Might you consider designing and implementing some teacher-led professional development opportunities at your school? To dive a little deeper and learn how to apply this information, be sure to check out the additional resources section associated with this video. This is where you'll find links targeted toward helping you discover more ways to apply this course material. Thanks for watching. Have a great day.

Notes on "Creating a Professional Development Activity in Your School"

(00:00 - 00:22) Introduction

(00:23 - 02:58) Teacher-Led PD Activities

(02:59 - 04:52) Teacher-Led PD Formats

(04:53 - 06:00) Practical Considerations

(06:01 - 06:28) Stop and Reflect

Additional Resources

Transparency Camp: Tips and Tricks

This article provides tips for both running and attending an unconference.
http://transparencycamp.org/about/tips/