The Dos & Don’ts of Leading a Professional Development Session

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At one point in your career as a teacher, you will lead some type of session in front of your peers. Your principal, academic coach, or somebody from Central Office has seen something that you do as pretty awesome and they want you to share it. Be proud! You deserve a little recognition for all the sleepless nights and clothes ruined due to a normal day in the classroom. Then you go home and it hits you…

“WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?  I don’t want to be boring.  What if they already know about this and critique me the whole way through?  What if I start sweating?”

GIF - Big Bang Theory breathing into a brown paper bag

This is normal. These are probably questions you ask yourself nightly before the next day’s classes. Just relax, pour a glass of wine (or skip the glass), and use a few of these pointers to get you through part of it. These are some of the Do’s and Do Not’s of leading a PD session I’ve picked up over the years.

DOs:

  • Make sure there is coffee and food available when they walk in. If not, you are already on strike one and it will be hard to recover.
  • Give everyone a few minutes at the start to check Facebook, Twitter, read Bored Teacher memes, and wake up.
  • Be real with them from the beginning. You’ve sat in their seats, don’t act all high and mighty.
  • Start out with something funny or a video. Nobody wants to see a stock photo or hear how passionate you are about this lesson at 8:15 am on summer break.  Save that for 10:00 am.
  • Make sure they can take it back to the classroom and use it. Nobody likes paperweights; our kids make enough of them.
  • Change it up. Talk a minute, let them talk (even if it is about you), do an activity.  Remember, just like a classroom, teachers in summer have the attention span of a fruit fly.
  • Tell them what is wrong or how you’ve screwed up before. Everyone can relate. Nobody wants to know how perfect this subject is every time.
  • Let everyone out for lunch a few minutes early. No explanation needed.
  • Give the option of taking multiple breaks or leaving early. Give the crowd power, they’ll like you more.

GIF - Wayne from Wayne's World thumb up "Excellent."

DON’Ts:

  • Do not start by going around asking everyone’s name and school. Nobody wants to talk with their mouth full of doughnuts and bear claws. Just say hey.
  • Do not do an icebreaker activity. I repeat: DO NOT DO AN ICEBREAKER ACTIVITY. We aren’t freshmen in college anymore. No further explanation needed.
  • Do not start with a PowerPoint. An immediate twilight zone will be reached.
  • Do not read off the PowerPoint word for word. This is grounds for getting talked about at lunch.
  • Do not hand out a 30-page packet. You might as well say, “Here, enjoy s’mores tonight with this fire starter.”
  • Do not go over your allotted time.
  • Do not let out late for lunch.
  • Do not forget afternoon chocolate access. It might be all that saves you.
  • Do not give them things to do “On their own time.” We are teachers, we don’t even know what that means.

GIF - James Ghost from Power on Starz "What the hell were you thinking?"

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Andy McCall author This article was written by Andy McCall. Andy is in his 9th year teaching and does everything to honor his little girl, Penelope, who passed last year. Check him out on his Blog or on Facebook: Penelope’s Path.


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