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It’s About Time

Jenny, who blogs at Elementary, My Dear, or Far From It and teaches 5th grade in a school in our overly large school district, has a message for those of us in central office who plan and present professional development sessions.

Should I end up in a role in which I am planning meetings or professional development for teachers I want to remember two things (at least):

  1. Respect teachers’ time. Every moment in meetings and PD should be valuable and worthwhile.
  2. Give them time to reflect and process.

If those two things were at the forefront of the minds of anyone planning meetings I have to attend, I would have a lot more interest in being there.

She’s exactly right.

And, at least in the little corner of the bureaucracy under our control, we will make every attempt to do just that.

meetings, teacher, training

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4 Comments

  1. Jack

    I propose Number 3:
    Treat participants like adults: put away the sophomoric ice-breakers and the silly “group-bonding” activities.

  2. Dave

    As someone with a bizarre and near-universal enjoyment for training and conferences and convocations and the like and someone who’s run some trainings myself, I don’t want anyone to forget or downplay the importance of trainee attitude. Someone has decided that the topic at hand is important enough to get everyone together – even if the presentation isn’t top-tier, it is part of your job responsibilities to get something out of it. Instead of dismissing the message based on the quality, I encourage trainees to step up to the challenge of doing their job.

    As a trainer, nothing is more frustrating than being alloted 15 minutes to give an hour of training and then having to work with trainees who checked out an hour earlier.

    That said, all presentations (including some I’ve given) could stand for some improvement. :)

    About icebreakers…I like them, but at a recent continuous improvement convocation we did one better: we split into multi-disciplinary groups, identified a problem that one or more of us were encountering, and brainstormed solutions. All the benefits of ice-breakers plus some actual accomplishment.

  3. I always find the discussion about ice breakers interesting–because, even though they aren’t my favorite thing, as a trainer, I’ve found that I have to include them. They meet the needs of a majority of the folks typically participating in a training and help establish norms of participation. I always have to remember that my preferred learning style is probably not the dominant style in the group. The challenge, as always, is to make them relevant and appropriate for the group.

  4. I think she’s dead on. I often feel like the presenters have been told, “Make sure you eat up at least three and a half hours, and if you don’t have enough material, have them do three ice breakers first!”

    Remember, it needs to be useful.

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