Author - Laura Conley

Creating Engaging Professional Development- Flipped-Style

By CUE Member Laura Conley @lconley86
Conley Fix

When you think of professional development, does engaging come to mind? In the past, it hasn’t for me but creating engaging professional development is exactly my goal with Flipped-PD! I know it sounds very ambitious, but change requires ambition and sometimes a leap of faith!

It’s A Need

While at the Annual CUE Conference in Palm Springs, CA this past spring it became very evident that many were interested in a change in Professional Development (PD). I was scheduled to facilitate a session on flipping professional development that would seat approx. 150 participants. As it turned out the room seated that many as well as many more along the walls and down the aisles. This spoke volumes to me about the need and desire for a change in professional development models.  I’ve witnessed this time after time at conferences across the U.S. this year.

Flipping your professional development is being prepared, organized, knowing your audience, (your teachers or staff) and the having the right tools.

Planning the Event

Beginning with the teachers’ needs is a great starting point. Ask teachers what they need in their classrooms. This gives everyone an opportunity to be in on the planning stages of the PD and then, from the start, you have buy in from the staff. Wouldn’t it be nice for someone to ask you what you would like to learn? Would you feel more a part of the learning process? Once you know some of these needs (you may have to give some suggestions to get them started) then you can plan the agenda around the teachers.

I have also found it important to group the participants by dept. or something similar to be able create an interactive agenda that has a deeper focus for each group’s session.

The completed interactive agenda (containing live links and completely digital) should be sent by email or shared with Google Docs to the staff. The method of sharing is not as important as just sharing it so everyone has access ahead of time. Now participants will know ahead of time exactly what the day holds in store.

Be flexible with your agenda. Adjust to your teachers’ interest. Some teachers may find Sophia.org a valuable tool if they are flipping their class, but others may not have that need. Being flexible and adjusting as you go is very important.

If there is an account to create for a tool they will be learning, they are asked to create them before the day of the workshop. This is an amazing time saver and starts the day off with everyone on an even playing field. No one has to ask the name of the website or the address to get there because they already have this information. This agenda sets a tone of action with the group.

Try using digital tools like Piktochart.com to create a visual agenda and Thinglink.com (see below) to add videos, websites, is the path to engaging professional development for everyone.

Remember to always be prepared for when you have technology issues as well.  What is your backup plan if that happens? Thinking and planning ahead could save a lot of headaches in the future!

During the Event

You have been modeling the digital tools since the start. The content is next. Depending on the length of the session your content may only be 2 or 3 items. Adult learners need time built-in to not only hear the content, but to question, to discuss with their peers and, of course, time to “do”– to really learn. If you don’t  build in time for teachers to learn and be engaged, you are doing the learning for them.

I give additional  information or tools as take-a-ways for teachers to continue learning after the session to stretch the workshop longer without using more time out of their school day. This extra information is also linked on the agenda and it is specific for each group. I wouldn’t give math info to the English department or vice versa!

Try using a virtual wall like Padlet.com to park the days information (tutorials, take-a-ways, websites, etc.) all in one place and easily shared with only one link.

After the Event

Your Flipped-PD session could end with a quick survey, again modeling digital tools, like Socrative.com, TheAnswerPad.com, PollEverywhere.com or other web-based response systems. There are so many free tools to choose from and we all like free! Follow up of the survey is essential. It shows you value the teachers as professionals and it keeps the expectations high.

Flipped-PD will look different for everyone. As long as you are focusing on creating an engaging PD that is centered on your teachers’ needs, I would say you are headed in the right direction.

Laura Conley spent two years creating a Flipped-Pd model at an Arkansas high school. Presently, she is a consultant for TakeActionReporting.com sharing technology integration ideas and tools with teachers across the country. She also presents at many national conferences encouraging others to create engaging professional development for their staff. Website info Flipped-PD.com.

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