Recently I explored what is wrong with professional development. I have come to the conclusion that by making the effort to ensure that PD is relevant, valuable, and delivered in a way that is respectful of the expertise and differences of our adult learners, we can eliminate the majority of the problem with PD. With the addition of an element of fun, PD can go from something we endure to something we yearn for. The recipe for success with professional development, is simply to approach teaching educators with the same pedagogy that we say should be employed with our students.
There are a multitude of articles written on the importance to make learning relevant for students who are children, that need is equally as great with adult students. Think about how many times you have tuned out from a training due to the topic being something that does not apply to you??? We can create relevance in our PD by differentiating to meet our adult learner’s needs. We add value by making sure that educators come away from every PD with something they can put right to use in their classrooms. If we do those things, and add in a sprinkle of fun, then our PD can be like an award winning recipe!
Let’s look at an example of a recent professional development I did where I attempted to include those elements.
Recently I met with my school faculty to discuss ways that we could go about vocabulary review as we begin prep for end of year testing. I began by very quickly reviewing Marzano’s Six Step Process for teaching Academic Vocabulary. Then using templates from NC Digital Leaders Coaching Network leader, Abbie Futrell, we played a round of Chopp-Ed Vocabulary Edition. Each teacher was given a digital basket of ingredients (which included a broken copy machine) and were tasked to create a recipe card with a vocabulary practice activity. I gave teachers 15 minutes to work and they presented their recipes. The winning recipe in each group earned a jeans pass for the “chef.”
Without a doubt, this was a fun activity! The activity was energized by the need to beat the clock and the competitive edge to develop the best recipe. The quality of the activities designed by our teachers reflected this energy. By allowing teachers to be creators of their own knowledge, and acknowledging their personal expertise the PD session reached a level of engagement that I rarely see in teacher trainings. The fact that teachers walked away with a whole recipe book of vocabulary activities they could put to use added great value to the time spent, and resulted in a quality teaching resource.
I’m so proud of what my teachers developed during Chopp-Ed Vocabulary Edition that I wanted to share this resource with you as well.