Last month I wrote about how important it is to offer professional development for our teachers. However, developing a schedule for professional development and finding topics to fill it up can be a challenge. To begin, I recommend offering professional development every other month until you build your idea bank. Then you will have time to recoup and plan for your next offering.
Here are some places to find professional development ideas:
- Look at general K-12, educational technology, and school librarian conference programs. Conference programs contain the latest topics and can help you identify trends that are currently impacting education.
- Read education blogs. Bloggers are always identifying new topics. If there is a topic that is frequently discussed by bloggers, it might be time to bring it to your school.
- Use a drop box to ask teachers what they need to know. Place the box by the door of the school library or in the teachers lounge. Sometimes teachers will not tell you what they need face to face. However, they may be inspired by the opportunity to leave a comment anonymously.
- Implement a quarterly teacher survey to ask about professional development needs. SurveyMonkey and Google Forms are free and only take a few minutes to set up.
- Ask the principal if there are topics that need to be covered to match the strategic plans for the school year.
- Analyze data points such as standardized test scores or ask the teachers about the results of the assessments they are giving. Then create professional development that will help the teachers to improve learning.
- Share what you have learned during your professional development if it pertains to the teachers in your school.
- Review the school curriculum and design professional development.
- Review free professional development opportunities. My blog posts contain examples of professional development each month.
- Read a book and share the contents.
- Review other school district pages to see the type of professional development that is being offered.
- Read the Facebook and Twitter accounts of professional organizations, librarians, and educators.
- Watch YouTube videos created by professional organizations, librarians, and educators.
- Read professional journals.
- Finally, ask other school librarians and your personal learning network members about the professional development they are offering.
In conclusion, there are many ways to locate ideas for professional development. It only takes a little research to find enough ideas to put on your schedule for the rest of the school year. Remember, don’t try to be complicated. Offer short sessions 30-50 minutes long that are accompanied by handouts or follow-up videos to help teachers to recall what is being taught. In addition, do not be afraid to provide pre- and post-assessments to gather opinions about the professional development, to determine if the professional development outcomes have been met, and to gather evidence for your portfolio.
Author: Daniella Smith
Daniella Smith, PhD. is a former school and public librarian. She is currently the Hazel Harvey Peace Professor in Children’s Library Services at the University of North Texas.