I attended a professional development conference planned by Albert Thomas and Keynoted by Kasey Bell. Everyone I observed had a great attitude about the scheduled activities. This is usually true of most people when you give them a chance to choose what they are learning. Incorporating choice is a foundational piece of engaging professional development. Designing activities with the “who” in mind is another important consideration.
There are also three other essential questions (at least) designers need to answer when planning professional development.
The first question to answer is: How can this professional development help attendees better prepare students for a world they cannot yet imagine?
Today’s Kindergarten students will graduate in 2028. We are preparing them for a future that we cannot predict. Think of what the world was like in 2004 when the current seniors were in kindergarten. Don’t just focus on the obvious (but incredible) technology changes since 2004, but also think of other ways in which the world is now different. Different ideas, thoughts, and different pathways of thinking.
The second question to answer during any PD is: How can this professional development help attendees deliver the customized and personalized instruction that students need?
I listened to an archived Freakonomics podcasts titled How is the school system like a bad radio station?. The premise was that a bad radio station is not customizable, it doesn’t adjust to your preferences, and it can’t predict what song you will want next. Contrast that rigidity with an app like Pandora which is able to do all of those things using a proprietary algorithm (Music Genome Project). Our students are used to customizing most of the aspects of their lives and therefore we should, where possible, provide them with the most individually tailored learning experiences possible.
The third question to answer is: How can an attendee immediately implement this new knowledge for students?
Without application new training is soon forgotten.
What are some other essential questions to consider when designing professional development? Connect with me on Twitter and share your ideas.