Facilitating Teacher-Led Professional Development This Semester

With pressing classroom to-do lists, how can professional development reinvigorate teachers to best meet their students’ needs? Try letting teachers take the lead in facilitating relevant, actionable PD with the following strategies.

Who should lead PD?

It can be tempting to call on the all-star teacher, department head, or early adopter to lead a session for their peers. Try to be equitable with leadership opportunities, though, by seeking teacher input: survey teachers to pinpoint desired growth areas, have teachers nominate each other, or ask for volunteers to lead a prioritized learning area. This may lead to quieter or newer teachers owning their unique expertise and building strong relationships with their peers.

Just as importantly, consider giving teachers the option of attending PD, rather than mandating it. Teachers could independently study and report back to a department chair on a topic more relevant to their classrooms, or there could be several PD session options.

How do we increase teacher engagement with PD?

Teachers differentiate to meet their students’ needs daily, so encourage teachers to approach adult learning similarly. Of course, teachers dislike being treated like young students (“1, 2, 3, eyes on me!”), but there are strong forms of differentiation that are relevant and appropriate for adult learning. Providing options for how teachers learn, adjusting activities for tech savviness, creating sources specific to subject areas, and encouraging teachers to cater their reflections to their students’ developmental stages are simple ways to differentiate and create deeper engagement for all learners.

What’s the best way to make PD sessions stick?

When PD sessions start with pressing classroom needs and cover strategies that can be used tomorrow, teachers are more likely to retain the content. Challenge teachers to lead sessions that start, rather than end, with the connection to the classroom. Then, encourage them to set aside time to integrate the skills and knowledge gained into their lesson plans, and check in on how the applied strategies worked in the next department meeting.

Guest post written by Ellie Hook, IXL Proposals Manager