There is no question that professional development for educators is imperative, but the last thing teachers want to do is participate in bad professional development. Faculty training shouldn’t be boring; it should be inspiring, enlightening and enthralling — and should model the expectations that schools and universities have for good instruction.
Here are five tips to conducting great professional learning for your faculty:
1. Listen to what the faculty needs and wants to learn. Conduct a survey or an assessment to determine their strengths and weaknesses. Then design a learning activity to address the weaknesses.
2. Follow the recommended standards from Learning Forward — the organization focused most on designing professional development opportunities for adult learners — which are quite extensive and beneficial to incorporate into your planning practices for developing faculty.
3. Incorporate technology. Classrooms will not function as platforms for learning if there is no technology present for instruction or practice. Faculty must learn and then apply the use of technology in daily instruction for either the delivery of the lesson or student activities related to the lessons. We have passed the point where technology in the classroom is optional.
4. Design relevant activities to engage and enhance learning for adults. This sounds easy, but designing appropriate activities is challenging and time consuming, regardless of whether you’re teaching children or adults. Faculty members deserve the most engaging learning activities you can imagine. They need to be excited about learning and teaching every time they leave a faculty development opportunity, and that rarely happens when you’ve been talked at for four hours.
5. Respect the adult learners; treat them like adults. Just because they are adult learners doesn’t mean they want to sit for four straight hours any more than a younger student would. Remember that teachers have responsibilities outside of training, so allow them time to check phones and email to keep them from falling behind on their regular job.
If you follow these tips and provide a clean and professional environment to learn in, you will have a happy and productive faculty. Respect yields reward.