Teach the Teachers: Four Flexible Professional Development Ideas for Summer
Vol. 13 No. 10
Professional development for teachers is often scheduled at this time of year, with the idea that since class is out, teachers have more time to devote to educational intensives. That’s not always the case—67% of teachers in New Jersey had some form of summer gig in 2015, according to one informal survey, and only a third of teachers reserve time from second jobs and family obligations for ongoing education.
With that in mind, we rounded up this list of creative, low-stress—and flexible—professional development ideas to pass to your teachers to keep their minds sharp and their spirits high for the Fall 2016 semester.
1. Start a teacher-focused social media group to discuss new topics.
On whatever social media platforms your teachers use regularly and you’re most comfortable, consider starting a private group on which you and others can share developments, news, and other interesting or relevant articles for your teachers and faculty leaders. It should be a casual, noninvasive way to invite them to engage and interact with school-related content during a distracting period of the year.
The Facebook and LinkedIn platforms both have particularly nimble features that are particularly useful for creating groups that can trade and comment on resources.
And, check out the broader conversations taking place online—the chats using #EdChat and #IndySchool are packed with experts and great resources. Check in at #ISMINCthumbsup to see what’s happening at Summer Institute and Advancement Academy, too!
2. Fund online video professional development.
One of the greatest advancements in professional development must be the creation of replayable talks and webinars. If teachers can’t make time to attend events in person (or budgets can’t quite stretch for live conferences or workshops), then prerecorded webinars are the next best thing. They can be paused and resumed at will, accommodating busy schedules, and allow for broad introductions to new topics you’d like to expand on during the coming year.
Additionally, consider compiling a list of YouTube videos of speakers and educators that you’ve found particularly inspiring and helpful for your faculty and administrators to enjoy. Some good channels to start with are TED Talks, Education Week, and NPR.
And it’s not just YouTube! You can make boards on Pinterest to which you “pin” creative or inspiring concepts; follow online forums like Reddit’s Education community to catch the latest news and research; or keep tabs on those Twitter hashtags we talked about earlier.
3. Support teacher-created and teacher-led workshops.
There’s nothing like doing to learn a new concept or skill. So, reach out to a few of your faculty leaders and see if they’d like to lead a presentation or workshop on a topic they’re interested in, but may not know a lot about yet for an in-school professional development day.
Telling them now gives them months’ worth of notice to create their presentation without dealing with the distractions of the school year. Not only that, but the research they conduct to present the topic to their peers will teach them better than (almost) any other method, short of an apprenticeship.
4. Design your orientation to be educational for all, rather than introductory for a few.
Most schools host a series of workdays prior to the start of the school year for teacher orientation to help acclimate new hires and form bonds that will translate into professional mentorship relationships over the new year.
While that’s great for your new staff, make sure you remember your returning teachers. Inviting noteworthy faculty and administrative leaders from other schools to speak to your teachers, for example, can infuse your staff with new ideas and make orientation beneficial for everyone.
Additional ISM resources:
ISM Research: The ISM Student Experience Study (SES) 2010–11
Additional ISM resources for Gold Consortium members:
I&P Vol. 36 No. 10 Budgeting for Professional Development
I&P Vol. 28 No. 14 Scheduling Professional Development for Faculty and Staff
I&P Vol. 27 No. 12 Professional Development and Your Senior Administrative Staff