We had some bad PD last week on an important school matter - writing curriculum with UBD. It lacked for 3 key reasons
- The presenter did little to engage the group
- The examples and documents had little alignment with district vocabulary & direction
- The presenter had difficulty answering any questions teachers had
Writing curriculum is too important to allow a bad presentation be the excuse why it doesn’t happen, and from this I learned a couple of lessons about how to respond to bad PD from a leadership position moving forward.
- Roll Up Your Sleeves - The PD wasn’t aligned to any of our district vocabulary, curricular categories, etc so I made some templates and design tools to distribute to the staff. I’ll share them with everyone in the school via Google Drive, and they’ll be there when folks need them. The presentation being poor doesn’t change the importance of UBD in the eyes of the district and school; if the speaker didn’t get it done, then it’s up to the leadership team to help staff get better. Leaving the result to chance and allowing bad PD be the reason folks don’t improve isn’t an option.
- Find Authentic & Convenient Ways to Do It - People need to be able to conceptualize how they’re going to do whatever is being asked of them; I’ve found in my brief leadership stint that modeling pays huge dividends. I needed to plan for our next Staff Tech Club meeting, and I needed to make use of the bad PD on UBD; I did both. It takes care of multiple birds with one stone. To promote it further, I screencasted my efforts and put in the staff resources section of my school website
- Make Staff Sharing Easy - I set up a community on Google + for our teachers earlier this year when we moved to Gmail, and it’s worth it’s weight in gold. During the PD one of our science teachers posted from his tablet that we should create a discussion category regarding UBD. Since Friday’s “PD” we’ve seen resources, articles, and commentary regarding UBD posted from teachers in various departments. There hasn’t been any talk of the performance of the speaker; even though the speaker performed poorly the community is keeping the discussion about UBD and professional learning alive and on point. Creating the community was a low effort / high reward idea that gets better with every new request to join and resource shared.
- A Little Goes A Long Way - Maybe only a few people will even click on the documents I created at first. As of now, only a small sampling of faculty is engaged on Google+. But, there’s more talk and action happening in regards to UBD and other edu topics than there would have been otherwise, and all of those resources and perspectives already shared will be there forever; someone may not look at it for a few months, but it’ll be there. I reckon folks simply seeing leadership working to salvage a poor PD session through creation and community has an impact even without specific engagement; people respond to effort.
The lessons I learned here can easily be applied to the inevitability of more lackluster professional learning engagements over the years; even if I’m using outside speakers to facilitate the session, I still have multiple opportunities to insure the outcomes and changes in practice I wish to see.