It’s truly one of the great ironies of our profession. Sitting idly in a giant auditorium while a speaker paces the stage emphasising the importance of engaging our students,. Don’t be the sage on the stage during your school PD sessions – lead by example and engage the teachers so that they will in turn engage their students in their classroom. Here are some ideas for activities to make and take for teachers, as well as some logistical hints to make your workshops run smoothly.
Teaching sequence/advice procedures/lesson planning
Origami: This ancient Japanese art is the perfect way to show how lessons and activities should be structured and clearly instructed. It gives a chance for teachers to be creative and have fun while following either prewritten instructions or writing the directions after listening for details.
Teaching reading basics
Personalised flash cards: Use your school culture and students to create flash cards with letters, names, numbers or sight words. Having pictures printed ahead of time and a laminator at the ready will enable all teachers to leave with a set of new personalised flash cards to use in centers or for SEN/Gifted students.
Bulletin board workshop: Teachers can come equipped with their themes/unit ideas for the month or term, and use the provided supplies to create an engaging and creative board for the outside of the classroom to keep other students and teachers informed of what’s happening in the class. Administration can also sponsor a contest for the most creative, funny or beautiful boards.
Worksheet potluck: In this activity, every teacher brings two or three copies of his/her favourite worksheets/graphic organisers. Teachers can choose ones that will fit their curriculum and have some new ideas and strategies to use with students.
Setting up the digital classroom: Using the computer lab, have one or two experts in the field (from your school) train all the teachers step by step in setting up and using digital classrooms. Some options to try are Edmodo, Wikispaces, and MS Office Note. Be sure to have copies of school calendars and access to photos and assignments ready for this workshop.
As far as logistics go, you need to be sure that you are fully prepared for the workshops. Be sure you have enough copies of materials needed, creative supplies such as coloured paper, scissors, glue and the like, as well as detailed instructions on how to do the activity. In addition, the facilitator should have a team of helpers who have been previously trained on the strategy so that they can assist teachers one on one if necessary. Approach the workshop positively. If there are some who prefer to sit back and observe, allow it after gently encouraging participation. Always offer positive feedback and have extra materials available in case of mistakes. You may even wish to foster a party atmosphere and bring refreshments, since many PD sessions are held after a long day of teaching. Even a small snack like juice and cookies is a welcome pick-me-up and will encourage attendance.
Your teachers will gladly stay for PD if you use these tips and engage them in fun, productive activities. Don’t be afraid to let your inner kindergartner out and have fun!
By Betina Fuentes