Thursday, October 11, 2007

Design your own training retreat!

by Ed Latham

Every year there are many professional development activities that teachers can go to and learn things. After every one of those, I have had debriefing with peers about the goods/bads/uglys from that experience and that reflection time is great. How often do you actually get to act on that reflection though? Well, here is your chance. Some of the people that read this blog are very influential people that help set up trainings, presentations, and retreats all over the state of Maine. They would love to hear from us about what things we value at trainings. Many teachers have stated they want "something they can actually bring back to their classroom". That is a great ambition, but specific suggestions are much more helpful in getting teachers what they want. Some people may not be sure what to ask for. Please offer anything you want as there are absolutely no negative consequences to posting your wish list. Realize that every single one of the presentation directors out there want to provide the best learning resource for teachers to use. They need input from you so PLEASE post your ideas!

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mrichme said...

Be exposed to new tools, time to explore, troubleshoot, try the tool again, and figure out how to integrate it!

Ed Latham said...

mrichme ... great suggestion. Any specific learning styles/methods that work best for you when learning how to do new things?

Guess I am looking for the what and the how people want their PD to look like. The research and theory points to conclusions, I an curious to see of people's preferences match.

I know your suggestion about the flow of the PD process is awesome and has been proven to work well for most teachers. Thanks for your input.

Anyone else?

Diane Whitmore said...

Since I'm at the ACTEM conference right now, it brings to mind what I like about this conference. First on the list: I like this better than tech PD at my own school because everyone here is positive about technology and enjoys learning more about it, as do I. No one is griping about being here or asking why we can't go back to the old way. So not only do we all have a positive attitude, but we're all beyond the beginner skill level. And ACTEM offers us choices of what to learn.

Other things that make ACTEM effective: it is hands-on to those of us who have our laptops with us. The sessions are an hour long, which is about as long as I can sit and absorb info. And there is a break between sessions so we're not running from one to the next or coming in late if we're sitting in a previous session that runs over, want to talk to the speaker after the session, or just need a bathroom break.

So to summarize what works best for me: being with people at a comparable ability level, having choices, making work sessions or workshops hands-on and interactive (either face-to-face or backchannel), and not trying to squeeze too much in. Is that the kind of info you were looking for, Ed? This is a great opportunity to influence the course of future PD offerings, so I don't want to squander it!

Ed Latham said...

Love the input Diane and I agree that this is an opportunity for all of us to "set the stage" for our future experiences!

Questions for you indicate that you like the 1 hour sessions. Some have expressed that an experience that requires us to "sit and listen" is much harder to focus on than an actively, engaging experience. So if there is just lecture/theory/sales pitch being offered, I like the 1 hour time frame. If I am getting my hands dirty and playing with the material trying to make connections to my job, I wonder if more of a 3-4 hour session (with breaks) might be more effective in helping me leave the training with something I can use. I feel it is important for presenters to honestly look at how much lecture is in their presentations. This may be hard to do as egos can get in the way. But if presenters feel that most of their offering for that session is lecture, we can limit it to 1 hour (maybe with other follow ups in later sessions?) Do people feel like 3-4 hour hands-on experiences are ok?

I will try to summarize the ideas presented as more input is added in by people. So far we collectively value:

1. Time to process, question, and process some more.

2. Hands-on activity that allows us to experience +/or learn things that are directly related to our job as instructors.

3. Time between sessions help people comfortably change gears and take care of personal needs between experiences.

4. We value time to talk to the experts individually or in small groups.

5. Indicating suggested ability levels helps people determine appropriate experiences for their current development.