Short and Sweet

What if PD sessions only lasted 15-20min?

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Update post 12/10/15 - Please see below original post: Link to google doc work with team - Short and Sweet

Nobody, and I mean nobody, likes sitting in a large hotel conference room, gymnasium or cafeteria for hours upon hours being talked AT.  It's not in our nature as humans.  In fact, neuroscientists have proved we aren't even capable of retaining information when we sit and listen for lengths of time.  

So what if instead of day long PD sessions, we explored the idea of Creative Mornings.  I got this idea from the Creative Morning website. A personal favorite of mine is Kevin Caroll's talk #GSD: Get Stuff Done.  All about creativity, grit and accountability.  

Why not spend 15-20 minutes one, two, three days a week in the morning, or maybe at lunch or immediately after the school day learning from colleagues or external "experts." What if we structured these PD sessions like Japanese Pecha Kucha - The Art of Precise Presentations. Short, precise presentations, no fluff. 20 images, 20 seconds per image. Sounds really fast, maybe too fast but it could be a great starting point. 

Given websites like, and, we can even do this learning individually.  This approach could lend itself to highly customizable PD. Imagine faculty learning about their true interests and passions at their own rate. Isn't that what we want for our students? To be engaged and care deeply about what they are learning?  

Of course, we would need to build in accountability. How are you taking these learnings and applying them to your craft? How is this relevant? and, the largest question to me, how does this new learning impact our students?

I would love your feedback, opinions, thoughts. Push back or build up.  

Overview: (What’s this idea about)

  • Waking up our brains to learn, create, innovate!
  • Enhance our personal learning, which leads to our professional learning; the two are linked. They may be two separate entry ways into learning but they both impact the same brain.
  • This idea is about creating within the school day. Learning bursts that will spark your ability to learn, create and innovate
  • Highly customizable PD that is relevant and inspirational.

Potential For Impact: (Why is this an idea that promotes continued growth?)

  • It creates a culture of learning, and from learning - from a desire to want to know - comes innovation.
  • Your brain is tingling and tired after learning something new. The tingling is the part where your brain is humming as a result of understanding something or being able to do something that wasn’t clear or doable beforehand. New learning creates synapses and promotes brain health and brains that are “on fire” are more likely to embrace innovation, as opposed to the sluggish brain that hasn’t been exercised.
    • This new learning will fuel Teachers to become more innovative in the practices and implement new, exciting ideas.
  • Creating a network of teachers within our schools/districts who share passions and support each other's learning will promote lifelong learning.
    • It also has the possibility to open new doors for teachers that they might have not discovered on their own.

Value Prop/Pitch: (How would you pitch this to other teachers in your school? Your principal? Etc)

  • Begin with an immersive, whole faculty PD day to learn about the passions of colleagues. From there, self select into small groups that will meet on a consistent basis during the school week.
  • Sessions will last 15-20 minutes and occur a few times a week either in the morning, lunch or immediately after the school day.
    • These sessions will be spent learning with our colleagues and/or external "experts,” in small sections that allow for processing time.
  • Pamper your brain / Build your brain health by (the following 3 points come from a blog post I wrote several years ago after attending a Learning & the Brain conference - Laurie B.):
    • Welcoming novel challenges
    • Beware of being on mental autopilot
    • Remain cognitively active
  • and because (the following 4 points come from The Idea Factory’s beliefs, page 23):
    • Experiential knowledge transforms people in a way that cognitive knowledge cannot.
    • Emotional engagement, rather than intellectual reasoning, is what fuels passion and drives action.
    • Moving people outside their comfort zone stimulates learning and inspires new ideas.
    • Foresight often leads to creation, while forecast assumes more of the same.

How’d I get this idea off the ground?

  • Administrators have to help kick start it by modeling the behaviour/approach/action you want others to follow
  • Have a kick off celebration
  • Give cool shout outs to those who participate
  • Internal Badging system
  • Gallery walk to share new learnings, insights, implementations

How  you can get started:

  • Find a small group of “experts” on specific topics/trend in which the school/district is investing
    • Experts run mini-workshops every morning for 15-30 minutes for ….
      • first few days are informational then comes the application
        • this allows for time to think and digest new information
  • Evite to PD event happening at school


  • Faculty feedback via easy quick survey
  • Faculty sharing their experience at a larger gathering of faculty
  • Asking faculty for their suggestions on improving the process after they have participated in a round or two

Materials to get this idea off the ground:

  • Kick things off with a Passion Day:
    • Finding out from faculty what their passions are, how they spend time outside of school, what they would love to do if they had the time/money to pursue AND THEN seeing if any of them would be interested in offering a workshop to their colleagues in the area of their passion
    • THEN having a PD day of passion-sharing where several faculty offer workshops about their passions - the schedule would be flexible enough to permit those offering workshops to also participate in workshops
    • and THEN continuing with this theme by having during-the-day or after-school workshops that followed up on these sessions (based on interest, which each workshop leader would gauge from their participants), very similar to the Ceramics workshop currently being offered at The Hill, but these would be at the River
  • Along with the “passions” part, also offer some sessions that were considered more along the lines of the type of PD that teachers often request (rather than what administrators might think teachers need)
    • for instance, sessions on apps or pedagogy that faculty have asked for i.e. let their needs and requests determine the content for these workshops
  • Include personal care opportunities i.e. the health care monitoring that our insurance company has provided on-campus plus a masseuse
  • In other words, the day would be fully focused on the faculty & fostering an environment that helps them feel good about learning, sharing & meanwhile shows school support for both learning outside the realm of comfort and for pursuing passions

Evaluation results

2 evaluations so far

1. Do you love this idea?

Yes! I love this idea. - 100%


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Photo of Paula Marra

There we are thinking alike :-)

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