Unbelievably, I'm going into my sixth year of teaching. That means I have been to a LOT of professional development. Most of it has been a useless waste of time. However! I remain hopeful that it can be done well, and that it can be of use to teachers like it's meant to. Here is my Official Guide to PD. Feel free to add your own in the comments.
1. Workshops should last no more than 1 1/2 hours. Furthermore, teachers should not be sitting in the same room all day long. Parse the PD into different rooms. Once the bum goes numb, so does the brain.
2. When planning PD (as a supervisor or as a presenter), ask yourself the Golden Question: Is this DIRECTLY relevant to classroom teaching? This cannot be emphasized enough. Teachers should be able to think about bringing your content into their practices. Now, whether or not they decide to is another issue, but it should be easy to connect PD workshops to everyday teaching.
3. Encourage participation. It breaks up monotony and keeps people awake. It keeps them accountable for the information, it helps teachers get to know one another, and best of all, that's good teaching. Remember, professional development is supposed to help teachers get even better at their jobs. Modeling is an important skill not just for classroom teachers!
3b. That said, limit role play; adults will feel silly and roll their eyes and/or refuse to participate.
4. Give time for discussion and planning--teachers want that time to figure out how to use the information in their teaching, because remember, it needs to be RELEVANT.
5. Think about the timing of the PD--what do teachers need most? The week before school starts is *not* the time to discuss child psychology or fancypants theories--teachers are anxious to get working on specifics for the students that will be arriving all too soon.
6. When possible, use faculty members to lead PD. Good teachers want to learn from each other. Do panel discussions, brainstorms, small groups, etc. (Hm, doesn't this also sound like something teachers are expected to do in the classroom? Just because you're working with grown-ups doesn't mean you abandon good teaching strategies!)
6b. Make sure that presenters is not only qualified to lead a workshop, but that he/she is also a good speaker, and (here's that word again) RELEVANT.
6c. Please ensure that PowerPoints are spell-checked!
7. Ask teachers for their input and feedback--what are they most interested in? what do they think would be most useful? what new things do they want to learn about or explore? Then, if possible, have options to choose from.
8. Make sure the workshop is something new, or new enough, to be worthy of the time. For example, using technology in the classroom could be really useful, but if the school doesn't have technological resources, or if it's about things like overhead projectors, that's a waste of time. An old idea like, I don't know, group work, that's a no. (I hope this makes sense.)
9. Evaluations must ask about the RELEVANCE of the workshop and how effective the presenter was. Again, good PD should be good teaching!
Educators: What do you think? What did I miss? What would you add/change/delete?