One of the many responsibilities of school administrators is to oversee staff professional development (PD). While some topics may be state or district mandated, site leaders typically have discretionary budget for their staff professional development. As administrators are planning their PD calendar for the coming year, how does one decides on which topic to choose from? Which will have the most impact on students' achievement, bring the most value, and generate the most engagement? I will let you in on a little secret: you don't have to (and shouldn't) make these decisions by yourself. Why not? First, you may miss the mark on what your staff really needs. Second, you may jeopardize your relationship with your staff by imposing topics and creating a top-down leadership style.
It all starts with DATA COLLECTION. Ask your staff what they are interested in. Keep an INCLUSIVE mindset. As a former physical education specialist, I was made to attend countless irrelevant PDs. Not only did it make me feel I was loosing my time, I also felt like I didn't matter. Special Education Teachers and Para-Educators often feel excluded as well. Keep an INCLUSIVE mindset.
Try implementing a SHARED LEADERSHIP approach, where staff members get to decide which PD they are interested to participate in. Your staff may be taken by surprise at first and say they don't know. It's not that they don't know, it's probably that they've never been asked before. Be patient and remind them their voice matter and that you want to build RELEVANCE. This coaching strategy works!!
Try facilitating a RAPID-FIRE activity. Divide into groups of 3-4 people. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Ask for a volunteer note taker for each sub-groups. Have your staff rapid-fire PD ideas. NO IDEA IS A BAD IDEA....just get them out on paper, even the silly one. Believe me they'll come up with those - which will make everyone laugh.
Write all the ideas. If ideas are still coming after the 5 minutes, extend the activity for one more minute. After the small group session, have someone from each sub-groups share with the larger group. Facilitate the narrowing down of the topics. Ultimately let the staff decide on a few INCLUSIVE topics. This is a super fun way that should get your staff fired up. It help build RELEVANCE and PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY where everyone feels SEEN, VALUED, HEARD, & RESPECTED. At the same time, it will give you a sense of what's on your staff's mind. Take notes so that you can follow up with individuals later. During the activity, suggest teacher self-care topics (stress management, mindfulness, conflict resolution, CPR, etc); DON'T MISS THIS GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY TO REMIND YOUR STAFF YOU CARE ABOUT THEIR MENTAL HEALTH & WELLBEING. At the conclusion of the rapid-fire activity, ask your staff what they liked about this decision process.
As Founder of Teachers' Wellness Coaching & Consulting, I believe in the power of a LABOR-MANAGEMENT COLLABORATIVE PARTNERSHIP. I offer a wide variety of PD to meet the unique needs of each organization.
*The art of letting go (forgiveness)
*Coping with social isolation
*Preventing digital burnout
*Substance misuse awareness
Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a joyful complimentary consultation for your staff's mental health & well-being professional development needs.