Hands up if you have ever sat through a staff development/professional development session (or worse… a day!) and thought at the end… “Well that was a waste of time!”?
If you are organising the learning for your staff, you know that it is near impossible to organise something that pleases everyone!
Let’s take a step back and look at WHY you are organising professional learning opportunities for your staff. The most common reasons are:
- We need everyone to be on the same page and hear the same message
- There are times when participation in compliance activities need to be signed off on
- We need to improve the learning experiences for your students
- There is a change management agenda that you need to deliver on
Notice that all of the initiatives above are about the organisation, not the person.
When you frame up your PD in this way, it changes the focus from a program to a person.
When you have the person at the centre of your PD plans, you have the flexibility to:
- provide customised PD that meets the needs of the teacher.
- deliver PD in a way that suits the learning style of the teacher, we do this for our students, why don’t we do this for our teachers?
- provide space for implementation of ideas, not just the gaining of knowledge.
Sounds great, but HOW do we do this?
Step 1 is to change your focus from change management to transformation.
The definition of change management is executing a single, well-defined initiative.
The definition of transformation is a portfolio of initiatives that are interdependent and intersecting. The goal of transformation is to reinvent the organisation and discover a new or revised model based on a vision for the future.
There is a real opportunity for you to take a step back and take a look at your traditional PD delivery model and see the opportunity to build something that is customised to the needs of your school.
When you do this, you can not only tweak and improve what you have, but re-engineer the system to make wide whole school changes that address a portfolio of initiatives.
There is a whole process on how to design, delegate and hold your team accountable for the results you have. If this is of interest to you, check out the leadership section of the Whole School PD program.
Step 2: Include ALL staff in your PD plan
It is vital that your office and support staff, executive and leadership team, teaching team and even your main casual relief staff are involved in your plan.
This is one of the greatest mistakes we see schools make. You provide great PD for your teachers on how to use the technology platform in the classroom, but a communication gap widens between teachers and front office staff. We especially see this when a school transitions from using Microsoft Office products to G Suite in the classroom.
Again, you don’t need to provide the same learning to these different groups of people. There is little value in your front office staff sitting through a classroom focussed PD on how to use Google Drive.
The key here is that every person in your organisation must be taking their next step, but it should NOT be the same step.
Again, sounds great, but how do we do this?
Step 3: Use the Internet to power your PD plan
This is the hardest part for some schools to implement. The main reason schools have been slow to adopt this model is:
We have always provided PD in a stand and deliver, in person model. “We just get more out of it when you are with us in person”
I absolutely agree that there is a time for whole school PD where someone presents to all staff in person. The time is when you need all staff to be inspired – hearing the same message and developing a common language for the change that is taking place.
The reality is that your teachers will only remember about 10% of what was said 5 days after the event, and implement even less. What they do remember is what they FELT during the session, so your focus should be on developing the emotion of change, not the mechanics of it.
Once the foundation is laid, then your staff can get about taking their next step.
To give you an example of how this works with technology training.
The most successful schools we have worked with (in terms of seeing the change they were envisaging) followed this process:
- Hold a kick off event to communicate the WHY of what you are doing.
- Develop a common foundation of practice that all staff must attain within a certain timeframe (tightly aligned with your why.
- Use our skills checklist to have all staff self assess their skills matrix.
- Ask all staff to improve in one tool per term (tick off all competencies at the basic, intermediate, or advanced level).
- Develop your support team who can provide short targeted PD sessions for staff to help them tick off the competencies. These sessions should be 5-15 minutes at a maximum.
- Provide the online course that is relevant to the staff member to enable them to learn and apply their learning in a self-paced way. (We have all the courses you need and all the real time support from our trainers to make this an enjoyable experience for your staff).
- Hold staff accountable for progress, by setting milestones for improvement.
- Go to the next level by providing a skills progression for students and map out what skills will be taught in what year / subject so that the whole school is on the journey together.
It really isn’t! We have the whole system, all the resources you need to set the wheels in motion.
The best part is to provide this level of support to your staff through a traditional model would cost you tens of thousands of dollars. With this whole school PD program it only costs you $219 per teacher for the entire year!
No casual relief needed, no disruption to classes and student learning, teachers are learning when and how it suits you, and the best bit is everything is done for you!