Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Meaningful Activities for Professional Development

Each year administrative teams and professional development committees at school districts around the world attempt to develop meaningful experiences for their faculty. The summer is an excellent time to begin planning such activities or hosting the activities, but nonetheless, some useful pointers by professional development experts might be a useful place to start in planning for a new school year.

One thing to keep in mind is that faculty members- who I assume are adults(!)- really have the attention span of children, especially after a long day of teaching and other sundry activities that stress an individual's mind. It might be beneficial to keep that in mind while considering optimal activities for their professional development time. From my own seat time experience as a teacher, lecture presentations do not work, especially after a long day and just before dinner.

Instead, use the following guidelines developed by Sally Zepeda from her book on professional development as a starting point in creating meaningful professional learning.

Eight Strategies to Engage Adult Learners

1. Make learning both an active and an interactive process.
2. Provide hands-on, concrete experiences and real-life experiences.
3. Employ novelty, but also connect to the adult learner's prior experiences and knowledge.
4. Give them opportunities to apply the new knowledge to what they already know or have experienced.
5. Be aware of the diversity in an adult group. Use a variety of approaches to accommodate different learning styles and experiences and use examples that reflect the diversity in the group composition.
6. Use small-group activities through which learners have the opportunity to reflect, analyze, and practice what they have learned.
7. Provide coaching, technical assistance, feedback, or other followup support as part of the training.
8. Give adult learners as much control as possible over what they learn, how they learn, and other aspects of the learning experience.

Zepeda, S. (2012). Professional Development: What Works. (2nd Edition). Eye on Education.

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