Oh, the wonderful WONDER WALKS strategy! Chances are you've heard about something similar to this strategy. Several schools implement a tool called "Pineapple Charts" as informal PD between and among teachers. You can find out more about this method HERE! This method allows teachers to observe colleagues and gain ideas about specific teaching tools and strategies. "Wonder Walks" are similar in that teachers spend time observing and learning from other teachers. The difference is that they can go into any classroom, observe any content area, and are expected to walk away with something wonderful they noticed and something they are wondering about for their own instruction.
Here are the logistics to get "Wonder Walks" started:
And when the wonder walks are over?
Great question! You'll want to be sure that teachers hold on to the notes they take! This is likely the most important part of the whole process. After the open period of observations, you'll want to have teachers debrief as a whole. This is so important, not only because it holds teachers accountable for their attention to instruction during the observation time, but also because it can encourage deep, thoughtful discussion about quality teaching. And HOPEFULLY great practices will be replicated across the campus. This is the best kind of professional development you could ask for- in-house, student-based, and actionable! Wondering what the debrief looks like?? Be sure to check out next week's blog post to learn about 3+3 Debriefing AFTER Wonder Walks!
Did someone say "SMORES"?! Why, yes! But it's not what you might be thinking. When I first heard of this site, I was kind of confused about its purpose. Was it supposed to be a virtual campfire? A virtual kumbaya of sorts? A place to learn about outdoor activities? But Smore actually has nothing to do with any of the aforementioned categories. So what IS it and how can it be effectively used by educators or educational leaders?
To quote the website, "Smore makes it easy to design beautiful and effective online newsletters." What I love about that statement is that it is, first of all, true and second, it makes use of the word "effective". The words in the statement the website creators use to tell about their site were certainly carefully chosen. So, let's see how:
What to include...
Of course, absolutely anything can be included in your digital newsletter. Obviously, it depends on your audience and purpose. As an instructional coach, I send out a newsletter every two weeks to share about current school events, professional resources, and more. Here's what I usually include:
Check out the example beloW!
Share your digital newsletter designs! Let us know if you use Smore and what makes it easy, beautiful, and effective for you!
How to have a bang-up PD session- even on a whim!
Honestly, if you were to put into every professional development session what you would your best session with teachers, you’d be spending ALL of your time doing nothing but prepping for PD. As amazing as that would be, instructional coaches simply don’t have the time (or resources) to create bang up, incredible PD sessions every time BECAUSE sometimes, a PD session or event happens with very short notice or no notice at all. And then there are other times when you simply forgot about professional development you were leading (or it was unclear that you were, in fact, the one leading it). Yes, it’s a stressful situation to find yourself in. But thankfully, there is a way to be ready for professional development in a S*N*A*P!
"S" is for Structures
Have a handful of no-prep structures in mind. We all know that the BEST PD sessions are those that encourage active responses and conversations among participants. Thinking about how to make this happen to its maximum potential can take a lot of thought and planning. But having a variety of no-prep structures in mind can make this possible in any PD session. The most common (and simple) structure presenters use is a "Turn and Talk". While this is an easy go-to, there are several others that can provoke the depth of conversation and participation you so desire. Even better? These require NO PREP and can all be found on my TPT store
"N" is for Niche
Consider your niche. Think about how can you fit the PD topic on the agenda into your niche. Are you great at delivering mini lessons? Structure it as a mini lesson with a connection, teach point, active engagement, and link. Are you particularly talented in leading conversations? Make it a conversational session and provide talking points on the topic. Perhaps you love ice breakers and team-building activities. Incorporate these into your PD. Chair Tag, Count to Ten, or Edu-Charades are a few that come to mind. Is technology your jam?? Have some go-to tech tools with which you're familiar and enjoy using. After all, your participants most likely will all have devices on hand. Some easy and quick-to-use favorites are Mentimeter, Jamboard, and Padlet. Regardless of the topic for the PD session you're leading, find your niche and use it to your advantage.
"A" is for Analyzing Your Audience
Get in the mainframe of your audience and find ways to capture their attention with a matching narrative. We are all naturally drawn to stories and their metaphorical and analogical nature. When a presenter uses a story to match, in one way or another, our situations, we are more likely to engage in the presentation, be more receptive to the message, and hold on to the information for a longer period of time. But before you throw any old story out there, you first have to analyze your audience and the PD topic. My suggestion is to have a running list of personal stories (that may be yours or borrowed) on your handy-dandy phone. Sift through them and think about what story might make for a great analogy to the topic at hand.
Here's an example:
"P" is for Participants as Presenters
Make the teachers (or your audience) the presenters. I can't lie... this is something I turn to quite often, but what a great thing to turn to! Chances are that, a lot of the time, your audience can come up with so many great thoughts and ideas that you hadn't even considered in relation to your topic. Allow for opportunities for your audience to collaborate and then present their findings. In order for this to work well, you WILL need a broad agenda mapped out in your mind. This could be mapped out in the form of questions the audience will consider, talking points you want them to discuss, or action steps to take collaboratively. Using "structures", as mentioned above, can support this method of delivery as well. What's great about this method is that your audience will feel empowered as they take ownership of the material!
Next time you’re in a pinch for PD, try these suggestions so you’re ready for PD in a snap!
Welcome! I am Casey Watts- teacher, mentor, leader, mother, and wife aspiring to be much more!