The STEM Education Blog

Tips for creating successful professional development opportunities

Oct 21, 2020 12:00:00 PM / by Rebecca Hoffa

As a school leader, it can be difficult to foster engaging professional development among your teachers — especially during e-learning. A District Administration article by second grade teacher Jami Witherell offers a few guidelines for creating strong professional development opportunities, which we’ve summarized below.

One of the most important tips Witherall offers in her article is to set a clear goal for your professional development session. If you don’t, teachers will likely leave asking “so what?” Opening your session by stating the purpose for the professional development opportunity is a great way to make sure teachers learn something.

Canva - Male boss speaking to multiracial colleagues at conferenceIt’s also important to connect with your audience, Witherall notes. Taking the time to get to know your audience — even through a screen — is critical to making them interested in the session and what you have to say. This could be done through an icebreaker, initial discussion, or another approach.

In keeping your audience engaged, Witherall also suggests that you should pace yourself as you move through your material — preventing teachers from tuning out or becoming bored. It’s important to take regular breaks and read the audience to know when people are getting restless.

The best way to keep your audience engaged, though, is to have fun. In the article, Witherall suggests talking about something you’re passionate about and letting your positive energy shine through to the audience members. You can achieve this is through telling jokes or stories to keep the audience’s attention.

Canva - A Group Of Administration Inside Of Conference roomYou should also avoid reading your screen word-for-word because it will cause teachers to disconnect with you, reducing the amount of information they take away from the session.

Witherall also points out that not everyone learns the same way. Your audience will likely disengage if you force audience members to participate by “cold calling” them. Calling on audiences members who do not volunteer often makes the audience anxious and causes them to disengage with the session, which can be fatal to its overall success.

Ultimately, the more you engage your audience and the more fun you make your professional development opportunity, the more successful it will be. Incorporating these tips is a great place to start.

Read the full article here: Do’s and Don’ts: How to engage teachers in online PD.

Looking for other professional development opportunities for your school? Check out this blog post: Resources for Teaching Virtually or in a Hybrid Setting.

Rebecca Hoffa

Written by Rebecca Hoffa