Are staff development days at the end of the year a good idea?

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Yesterday I had the honour of speaking to the staff of Guildford Primary School and Auburn North Primary School.  Speaking at staff development days can be a daunting task, there are always those who love what you have to say and those who were wishing they could be somewhere else…anywhere else!  I love the challenge of engaging teachers from all different cultures, life experiences and career experience.

In 2010 the NSW Department of Education gave schools 2 extra staff development days at the end of the year.  In the school that I am a teacher we conducted our two extra days during the course of the year which was beneficial as we were in the flow of the school year, and addressing issues that we were facing at that time.

Having had the opportunity to speak at schools all year round as well as the last couple of days of the school year I would advise principals who are looking to maximise their staff development time to try and hold the extra days either on a Saturday or a public holiday throughout the year.  Having said that it might be a tough road to convince the teachers to give up their weekend!

If you are going to conduct a staff development day at the end of the year my advice would be to bring in someone who can speak about teaching and learning in general rather than a strategy specific session.  In 2011 I will be suggesting to the schools I speak at on the last 2 days to request a session on how generation Y and Z learn, or a session on the latest research on the brain and learning.  These options are interesting and relevant but the teachers will not need to know the makeup of their class to maximise the benefits.

What were your staff development days like this year?  What was the best and what was the worst?

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