A Coaches Guide to Creating Effective Day Time Professional Development Workshops
Who dares to TEACH must never cease to LEARN – John Cotton Dana
For many school districts, the ability to create a dynamic and effective Instructional Coaching program is a challenge. You have a few hundred teachers scattered across several school buildings, each with their own comfort level digital learning, and only one or a few coaches to support everyone.
When creating your EdTech Integration Plan one of the options that should be discussed and considered is a Day Time Professional Development Program.
To conceive of a program requires, however, a little bit of planning and buy-in from every level of administration.
Creating a daytime professional development program where teachers leave their schools to spend time in classes and workshops takes not only staff coordination but also a financial commitment from the district because of the number of substitutes that would have to be involved.
Planning from the Top Down
When planning any type of professional development, strong consideration of topics should first come from the district's Strategic Plan. As we learned about when planning the EdTech Integration Plan, the Strategic Plan is the district blueprint that not only gives the district a vision for what should be happening in classrooms but why it is important for students to be taught a certain way.
The next series of topics that should be considered for group professional development sessions are the goals and vision that each building administrator and curriculum office leader has for their staff members. One of the best ways to build daytime workshop sessions with the understanding that the sessions will help administrators meet their yearly goals.
Surveying Your Staff
Once you have discussed PD topics with both central office and building-level administrators, it is also important that staff members have a choice of sessions that serve their interests and needs. Creating sessions based on a certain application or project is critical in getting teacher buy-in and helping the program build a reputation of being something fun and exciting for staff members to want to leave their daily routines and join. Keeping in mind that attending these sessions means that a teacher must provide extra work for a substitute, your session should always be designed to help both teachers and administrators meet their goals in addition to being positive learning experiences.
The question often is, “How do you know what types of sessions and topics are of interest to staff members?”
Some of the best ways of knowing what sessions to offer are by creating self-assessments and by simply sending staff members short-form interest surveys.
Pre-Workshop Documents and Surveys
One of the best ways to take a quick temperature check of your district's comfort level or use in digital learning applications is through a simple “what do you know and what do you want to know” assessment activity. For many of your staff members, this is a non-stressful way of sharing what applications are meaningful to them. This also is a terrific way to show off a new way of using an application that you are looking to focus on throughout the school year.
How does the Short-Form Staff Self-Assessment Work?
In this example, a Google Apps assessment has been created using Google Drawings. The user is asked to then place the icon of each application in one of four boxes to demonstrate their comfort level of that application.
One of the best ways to distribute an assessment such as is by first creating a template (using Google Drawings in this case) and then distributing them through Google Classroom. This will give staff members the opportunity to quickly take the assignment and submit it. Additionally, using Google Classroom's thumbnail view of assignments you can see all the assessments in one scrolling window without the need of opening each individual Google Drawing file.
The PD Topic Interest Survey
The Professional Development Topic Survey is one of the first tools that a coach can use when deciding what PD sessions to offer. This is an invaluable tool to not only take a quick temperature check of a building or school district, but also for the coach to get an idea of what topics and applications are on the minds of their teachers.
One thing to keep in mind when looking at the example provided is that the survey asks two simple questions. One question focuses on specific applications. The other focuses on more curriculum and project-oriented goals.
How does the PD Topic Survey Work?
The focus of this survey is to do a quick check of what your teachers are thinking about doing in their classrooms. This form can be shared with staff members by email, but often it is best done in a staff meeting situation so that you can very quickly get your entire group to answer it all at the same time.
One thing to notice about this survey is that it asks for the teacher's name and email. Not all surveys in this process will be staff member specific. The reason this survey asks for the name of the staff member is that, even if the staff member does not sign up for a PD class with the coach, they still can be 1:1 reached out to for potential coaching meetings. Additionally, a coach can relate the data provided by the staff by building or department so that additional group PD can be discussed and planned between the coach and administration.
Choosing Your PD Sessions
The PD Course Catalogue is a key component in the planning and development of the Day Time Professional Development Program. The catalog can be as simple as a Google Doc with session titles, a Google Form with checkboxes, or in the case of the example provided, a Google Slide that provides a visual “e-book like” viewing experience.
No matter how the course catalog is created, it is important to remember that every staff member learns and searches differently. In the case of the example provided, courses are listed throughout the catalog in at least two ways.
How is the Catalog Organized?
The first way that courses are listed is by application. Teachers can search for an application they may be working on or would like to learn about and can search through courses that will address a particular application.
Additionally, each course is organized by a category based on (in this case) the 4 C's which will help teachers choose classes based on curricular and digital learning goals.
Advice on Topics and Descriptions
One piece of advice when creating a catalog for your school district is to keep things simple. We all have been to regional and national conferences where we see session titles and descriptions such as “Iron Chef Google Apps” and have been impressed with the way things are worded enough to stop by the session.
Where those fancy and flashy titles might be good for conferences, they do not always work when working in a K12 district. Many teachers will not know what it means and even though you are creating a good session focused on staff needs … if they do not feel comfortable signing up for a course and leaving their teaching day to attend … the course will not be successful. (See tree falling in the woods)
PD Course Registration Form
No matter if daytime workshops are mandatory or volunteer, the PD Course Registration Form is a coaches last offensive opportunity to entice staff members to sign up for daytime professional development workshops.
If the form is too long nobody will fill it out. If the form is too short you might not have enough courses that will spark enough interest from teachers to sign up.
In creating the PD Course Registration Form, there are always two thoughts:
- Create a form for each month
- Create a form for the entire semester and adjust it as time passes
No matter what option you choose, the form should provide your coaching staff and administrators with exactly what is interesting to your teachers. It should have sessions available that meet the needs and goals of building administration as well as having fun and engaging sessions that spark interest in working with you as a coach.
In designing this form, it is best to have as many multiple-choice questions as possible so that you can graph out the responses. Additionally, this is one of the best places to add the “what do you want to learn” question before hitting submit. This will not only get staff members thinking about why they want to attend but is also valuable feedback when asking administrators for the opportunity to run additional classes on certain topics.
Running Your Workshops
The PD Course Pre-Test is a useful quick assessment tool that is given just before the workshop begins. You might think of the Pre-Test like an Entry Ticket given at the beginning of a class period.
Why Start with a Pre-Test?
The purpose of the Pre-Test is to get the attendee thinking about the topics that will be covered during the workshop session. I generally use grid-type questions.
The second part of the Pre-Test is to ask one final “what do you want to learn” or “what questions do you have about today’s topic” type of question so that you can make sure that you address everyone’s questions and concerns during the presentation.
Why Use a Rating System?
In creating the Pre-Test it is important to create your main questions with a rating scale. This allows you to later give the Post-Test which will be the same exact assessment as the Pre-Test. This will help you show growth of your attendees over the course of the session. This is immensely helpful for any coach who wishes to use their PD as part of their Student Learning Objectives (SLO) during evaluation season.
The PD Course Post-Test is remarkably like the Pre-Test except that it is given directly after the workshop has been finalized. The Post-Test should be created using the same exact question format as the Pre-Test so that you can easily show the growth of the participant.
How does the Post-Test differ from the Pre-Test?
One additional feature of the Post-Test is the ability to collect examples of any work that was created during the workshop. This is a fantastic way of archiving what happened during the session.
Additionally, the Post-Test is a wonderful place to ask your workshop attendees if they would like to book the coach for a classroom visit.
Collecting Data and Staff Members
An important part of any professional development session for both presenter and participants is the ability to provide (and accept) open and honest feedback about how the experience went.
Traditionally, the Post Workshop Feedback Form is one that is anonymous so that the participant can share openly about their experiences. It is also designed to have a surprise ending. (More on this below.)
How does the Post Workshop Feedback Form Work?
The focus of the Post Workshop Feedback Form is to gather quick and effective reactions on how the session went and v needs to be improved on. A Feedback survey could be given out directly after the workshop, but it is often best to email this survey to participants a few hours after due to the addition to the form.
One thing to notice about this survey is that it comes in two parts. The first part of the survey is the actual feedback survey that asks participants to share their thoughts about the event. Once the participant clicks the submit button the form, they are then provided with a link to an additional form where they can sign up for times to meet with the coach.
When done correctly, ongoing daytime professional development is a tremendous plus for any coaching program. Not only do your coaches can work with both large and small groups of staff members, but workshop interactions also can springboard into meaningful 1:1 coaching relationships.