How Do we Improve PD for Teachers?
I mean, we’re teachers! Right?
If there is anything we are supposed to know about it’s well, teaching and learning. So then why are so many conferences and workshops less than completely satisfying? And how can we change this?
Let’s do something obvious. Let’s approach a PD from the perspective of a class. Which it is.
Let’s look at:
- Engaging student interest through differentiation
- Using backwards planning (or beginning with the end in mind)
- Starting with a provocation & allowing for ownership through choice
- Incorporating both formative and summative tasks
- Offer support throughout the learning process
We know it works for student so let’s put it to work for us. DISCLAIMER: From this point onwards I will be describing a DEEP Learning conference style. Still very pertinent to you but I DO hope you will look at the website.
1. Engaging Student Interest Through Differentiation
From the outset we focus on making learning relevant. Different people have different needs. The framework for the Mathematics & Technology in the Digital-age Conference is the two-pronged approach. Our strands:
3-Act Maths as pioneered by Dan Meyer and delivered by Kyle Pearce
Technology Integrated into all Classrooms
A Full-day GAPPLE pre-conference focusing on Apple and Google in the Classroom
You can start thinking about what you might like to attend from the workshops on offer before you arrive. You can even start devising your own personal program through Whova, the online app we use to help you organise your personal program online and/or through your phone.
2. Using Backwards Planning (or beginning with the end in mind)
We want everyone to have a meaningful experience. What better way to ensure this than by setting up a takeaway project? This should be something that you create and can bring back to your school community, teachers, classes, and/or students. Your assigned group leader will be able to check for understanding and essentially “assess” that learning was complete through the development, to some stage, of a usable product. You can also think of it as just another way we are working to help you stay focused as well.
3. Starting with a Provocation & Allowing for Ownership Through Choice
The next level of personalisation comes from the ability to further fine tune your experience based on the morning discovery sessions. During these short introductory sessions workshop leaders introduce, demonstrate, and share their topics. These involve examples, demonstrations, direct classroom connections and challenges that allow participants to make informed decisions about which workshops to attend in the afternoon.
The afternoon DEEP sessions (50 minutes each)
If we consider our morning introduction as “discovery” then the afternoon workshops are the chance to engage, experience and participate in an inquiry-based challenge. Workshop leaders act as a facilitators for the participant-led challenges. Depending on the type of workshop you should expect a maximum of 10 minutes direct instruction as a group before embarking on your challenge.
These DEEP sessions are fuelled by “Challenges” to accomplish. The challenges are introduced and facilitated by the presenters. The challenges could turn into the creation of your takeaway project.
4. Incorporating both Formative and Summative tasks
The focus on challenges (formative tasks) serves two main purposes. It keeps participants actively engaged and putting skills to work in every session they attend and these can be incorporated into the takeaway project (summative task) as they see fit.
5. Offer Support Throughout the Learning Process
Workshop leaders check-in throughout sessions. Group leaders follow up at appointed times. You have a short exit interview before receiving your certificate at the end to share your progress.
Sound familiar? If it sounds like your classroom it should. Good PD should be about modeling and following good teaching practice.