Sunday, July 24, 2016

Planning Effective Training: Part Three of the Start-Up Guide Series

If you've been a teacher for any amount of time, you've sat through some pretty terrible PD. These are all the things I hate about professional development:

*I have to make a tent with my name on it.
*They make me talk to people I don't know.
*They assign seating and make me get up from my table which I so lovingly selected.
* I already know what it is they're presenting because it's basically the same regurgitated training I've been to for the last three years. So it's a waste of my time.
*The presenter doesn't know his/her stuff. I leave with no more understanding than I arrived with.
*It's boring. All talk, no learning.
*I don't get to read or write. It's all cute stuff and no digging deep.
*It is so broad and blanketed that I have no clue why I'm there.
*It's irrelevant to me.

As you can see, I can be cranky about PD. It's one of my biggest faults, I think. I try to have a positive attitude, but I've been disappointed so many times. I know my goal should be to "take away just one thing," which is advice I've been given. But eight hours for one thing? It better be an amazing thing if I'm investing eight hours in learning it. 

You don't want to be on the other end of the crankiness that I and so many other teachers demonstrate about PD. And, as a trainer, your primary goal needs to be to grow your teachers to support student learning and to never, ever waste a teacher's precious time. 

Professional development works well when it meets a few criteria:

*It is directly entrenched in the work teachers do every day.
*It is designed to meet a need teachers have.
*It includes follow-up and support as teachers become more confident in the implementation of the training.

One-shot professional development opportunities don’t support teachers. We’ve all been to a PD that droned on and on, providing lots of information but no real connection to what’s going on in our classrooms. Being an instructional coach on a campus is so valuable because it helps you see trends across your campus. Those trends can be great fodder for PD. When you’re considering providing a training, always ask yourself:

*Does this add value to something my teachers are working on?
*Does this build on something we believe is important?
*Will I be able to support this learning throughout the year?


Professional development often has to be divided up into meeting the needs of different groups of teachers. This might be by grade level, content area, or current depth of understanding in the topic. At first, it is sometimes necessary to align the campus by providing similar trainings across various groups of teachers. However, over time it’s ideal to differentiate trainings based on teachers’ areas of need.




Tips for successful PD

1. Start with the end in mind. Consider the goals you've set for yourself this year. What tools do your teachers need to add to their toolbox? How will you support this learning over time? Include “next steps” in your information for teachers.




2. Know your stuff. Once you’ve identified the content of your professional development, you’ll need to make sure you’re well-versed. If you’re unclear in your delivery, your teachers will be confused and frustrated. 



3. Plan for instructional methods. If there are specific instructional methods you want to share with teachers, integrate them into your training. For example, structured writing responses are a great tool to use in the classroom. As you’re learning the content, provide an opportunity for teachers to use this response tool to write about their learning. Asking teacher to utilize learning targets? Write your targets and refer to them during the lesson. Model school initiatives in your training!
 






4. Plan for movement and engagement. Teaching is tough and teachers are tired. Create opportunities for excitement and laughter in your training. However, don't do too much. Adult learning, while similar to student learning, isn't always facilitated by forcing adults to do things that kids might (and even sometimes they might not) enjoy. Sometimes mixing teachers up works well, but sometimes you'll want them to work with their grade levels or departments in order to grow the alignment and teamwork.

5. Allow for a variety of learning experiences with new content. This can include...
  • Modeling a strategy for your teachers, with the teachers acting as students
  • Reading about the strategy
  • Watching a video of the strategy in action
  • Writing about the strategy
  • Practicing the strategy in small groups
  • Planning time for integrating the strategy into future plans.
  • Maintain a positive and energetic demeanor. This can be contagious and positively effect your teachers’ learning.
  • Provide a copy for teachers to write on (if you are practicing the activity) as well as a master copy of any materials teachers would like to use in the classroom. Teachers don’t like to ruin their master copy!
Was this helpful? Would you like more tips and information about getting started as an instructional coach? Check out my all-new ebook: The Start-Up Guide to Instructional Coaching on TPT! It includes these tips for professional development, and so much more about supporting your teachers through a variety of support systems!

And be sure to check out the rest of the posts in the series:
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12 comments:

  1. I LOVE this post! I have so many of the same PD pet peeves! I really like your suggestions for making PD meaningful! I 'm going to share your post with my administrators! Thank you!!!

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  2. I agree with all your pet peeves! One to add on is when they read the PowerPoint to me word for word. I can read-- promise!

    But I really hate when they makes me shift and talk to other people. I get it. I can get some great ideas from other people. But when my principal sends me with my grade level team to a training it would be awesome to talk about it with MY TEAM! Because if we don't then after the PD we have to find time to meet again and talk about it and how to implement it!

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    1. EXACTLY! It's not just because I don't like to talk to new people (although this is sometimes true! lol). It's because it's impractical! Thank you for the confirmation :)

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  3. I'm loving this series. I'm preparing to begin my 2nd year as an instructional coach. This year, I have a new principal and the expectation will be to provide more PD. I want to respect our teachers' time by making it worth their while!

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  4. You make me feel so much better about my feelings about PD and coaching!! Bookmarked this page to review as I play PD by myself for the first time this year! Thanks!!!

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  5. Great post! I absolutely agree about the waste of time PD teachers have been exposed to for way too long!

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  6. Great post! I absolutely agree about the waste of time PD teachers have been exposed to for way too long!

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  7. I completely agree with your approach to meaningful PD! It's so important to remember that before we were coaching we were teachers and think about what kinds of PD were effective for us. Thanks!

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  8. I feel exactly the same way regarding PD. Facilitating my first PD soon, and will definitely be using your tips to guide my planning.

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  9. You always seem to say what I'm thinking! I used your blog as a reference numerous times last year as a first-year coach! Love your tips!

    Mandy Taylor
    https://taylormadeteaching.blogspot.com/

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