5 Out of the Box Ways to Engage TEACHERS in Professional Development

Lauren SalsingerAdministration, Blog, Engagement, Innovation, Professional Development, Self-Paced Learning

In This Post:

  • As a Student Learning Coach, providing meaningful professional development for my teachers is so important.
  • There are 5 out of the box ways to engage teachers in PD.
  • What better way to guide discussions than by leading with the students?
  • Inviting students in and having teachers watch drives engagement.
  • Google Classroom isn’t limited to your class, it is also a great platform for teachers!
  • Online learning can be done in a number of ways, but videos and readings, followed by discussions through Google Classroom have been most effective with my teachers.
  • Providing options increase the effectiveness of the learning opportunities for teachers.
  • Jigsawing the content can add more to teachers’ plates, but it also allows for teachers to take ownership and get more invested in the content of the reading.

Let’s face it, educators already have a lot on their plates, so when providing professional development to teachers, leaders need to make it engaging and worth their time. As a Student Learning Coach, providing meaningful professional development for my teachers is so important.

Knowing that students get so engaged during these activities, I figured that rather than telling teachers it’s so great, I would just SHOW them! Click To Tweet

Here are FIVE out of the box strategies that have worked for me:

1. Use student data to drive the presentation.

That’s why we’re all here, for the students. What better way to guide discussions than by leading with the students? I surveyed all 950 students at my school about what engages them and helps them learn best. I used this data throughout the year in multiple professional development opportunities to share the “why” behind different initiatives. Teachers saw value by use of powerful statistics such as, “85% said that providing them with choices helps learn.”

2. Bring in the students.

Hands-on learning activities such as divergent thinking or STEAM challenges weren’t typically implemented by teachers in my school. Knowing that students get so engaged during these activities, I figured that rather than telling teachers it’s so great, I would just SHOW them!

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I invited students to come in during the professional development to do the divergent thinking challenge. Teachers watched like a fishbowl. During and after the activity, teachers reflected on student engagement as well as all of the learning and problem-solving they witnessed. Over half of the teachers who attended ended up implementing a challenge like this within a week of the professional development.


3. Host an online learning class.

Google Classroom isn’t limited to your class, it is also a great platform for teachers! Online learning can be done in a number of ways, but videos and readings, followed by discussions through Google Classroom have been most effective with my teachers. Educators love the flexibility of the platform, and the discussion provides a sense of community. Teachers also appreciate that all of the resources are available for them digitally when they need them.

4. Provide options.

My district offers an incredible learning opportunity for teachers. Teachers are allowed to teach a class to other teachers in the district, and the only requirement is that the Professional Development committee of teachers has to approve it. This means it should align with the school’s mission and vision in some way. I have taught classes ranging from “Makers Gonna Make” to “Fostering Independence Through Conferring and Small Groups.” Teachers get clock hours, and all that sign up are invested and eager to learn because they CHOSE to sign up! As an added bonus, it’s also a great way to meet teachers throughout the district!

5. Jigsaw the content.

This is particularly effective with a book club! Each teacher or team is responsible for a chapter. This teacher or team then chooses how they present their reading and new learning to the staff. While this does add more to teachers’ plates, it also allows for teachers to take ownership and get more invested in the content of the reading.

I hope you’ll consider these 5 things when planning your next professional development session for your staff!


About Lauren Salsinger

I am currently a Student Learning Coach at a middle school. This means that I get to work with all teachers to help empower students and increase their voice and choice in the classroom. I graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in Elementary Education. I taught in an elementary school for seven years, primarily in a fourth grade classroom. During this time I also earned a Masters in Reading through Concordia University. I believe that getting involved with your school and community is so important as an educator. I took on a leadership role of RtI Facilitator, led numerous student clubs, and taught PD courses for teachers. This led to my interest in educational leadership. I am currently working toward a Master’s in School Leadership. My role as Student Learning Coach affords me many leadership opportunities, and every day is a different journey!

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