How To Help Your Staff Maximally Utilize Summer Professional Development

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After a demanding school session, summer presents us with an opportunity to relax and pursue extracurricular adventures that we relegated to the background due to the academic engagements. The school year has ended, but that doesn’t signify that the quest for knowledge and growth has stopped. Students, teachers, and school administrators seize this period to review the past year’s successes and failures and strategize to improve the next session.

School leaders must consider many factors when planning a summer PD to enhance comfortability and help teachers make the best use of this training. Here, we give you guidelines that you might consider.

1. Differentiate your programs.

The interests of your staff members are not the same, so don’t plan one size fits all programs. Some persons will prefer tasks that extend for many days, while others may be excited by new assignments every day.  Some staff may want to get acquainted with vital new technologies before the new session begins. Whether it is a new piece of tech, how to adapt their lessons across different mediums ahead of a BYOD policy, or to learn a new skill that improves students’ outcomes, you should support and adjust your PD program to meet their needs.

You will have to communicate with your faculty for successful differentiation and know what they’d want to be included on their summer PD menu. Then, you can compare them with what you consider vital for a summer PD and make your decision.

2. Involve faculty members in the planning.

If your goal is to have an effective PD program, it is easier for faculty members to be interested in the planned activities. The best way to know what programs will pique their interest is to ask for their opinions and not impose your plan on them. You can conduct a survey using Google forms to seek their choice on the programs to be featured. Do they want to gain proficiency in the use of design thinking in classrooms? Or deepen their knowledge of your LMS? You can throw in some ideas to stimulate and guide the conversations.

If it is your first time organizing summer PD, you should start small. Use the first year to observe and deduce what works for the staff, then use this information to improve your program in subsequent years.

3. Create time to solve existing issues.

Your school perhaps has current issues and challenges that have been left unresolved due to the unavailability of time during the last session.  Whether it is the staff’s attitude to lunchroom duty or a need to modify the parent-teacher meetings’ structure, the summer PD presents an opportunity to revisit those issues.  You can convene a meeting with the faculty and affected individuals where all the parties can find solutions to these problems. Importantly, you’ll have to allow the staff to lead the conversation and proffer suggestions on solving these problems. This method will give them a sense of ownership and make them eager to champion the new reforms to be introduced next session.

4. Study and Review a book on professional development together.

As part of your programs, you can include a group study for faculty members and decide to buy copies of a particular title for everyone who indicates interest. The book’s theme should promote crucial discussions within the school community or provide insight into these issues. When you decide on this, there are plenty of excellent books that stimulate deep thoughts about teaching and learning. You can propose to host a book party, where everyone comes and share their thoughts about the book.

5. Don’t make summer PD exhausting for your staff.

The school session is already enough stress; you don’t have to make summer PD tiring. A way to avoid this is to make be time conscious, do not let your meetings extend beyond three hours or after lunch hours because productivity levels among workers plummet after this period. Plan your events to fall in the morning while allowing them to enjoy their evening hours still. Ultimately, be flexible with time. Teachers who have children will appreciate it if you consider their circumstances and schedule these meetings accordingly.

6. Make room for refreshments.

If your budget permits, it will be thoughtful to offer a mid-morning brunch or host luncheons for the teachers at the summer PD meetings. Food lifts the mood in any environment, and in this situation, it shows your teachers that you care. Eating together is also provides opportunities for faculty members to bond and creates a community culture.

7. Appreciate your staff.

Some members of your faculty may not be expecting this part, but they will surely cherish it. It doesn’t have to be something big; you can send handwritten notes to thank them for the time they devoted to becoming better teachers. This acknowledgment will spur them to put in their best, knowing that you see that their efforts.

School leaders have opportunities to create memorable experiences for their faculty members, and with meticulous planning, they can bring more life to summer development programs. They only have to be responsive to the teachers’ needs, and the benefits are just bonuses.

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