Short and Sweet

What if PD sessions only lasted 15-20min?

Photo of Michael Schurr
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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 creativemornings.com, PechaKucha.org and Ted.com, 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


Metrics:

  • 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%

32 comments

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Photo of Paula Marra
Team

There we are thinking alike :-)

Photo of John Faig
Team

I was at a conferences and there were several different sessions that had different durations.  what if the 15-20 minutes sessions were complemented by longer sessions (60 minutes, 3 hour "labs").  In another idea I'm working on, I suggested the need for a mock classroom for teachers to practice.  With this type learning space, teachers could maximize even a 15 minute session.

Photo of William Ferriter
Team

Hey Michael, 

I like this idea.  A lot.  As for the worry that you can't "go deep" in 15-20 minutes, I disagree simply because the assumption behind that notion is that you need "the expert" in order to go deep.  I think most learners "go deep" after an introduction to an idea.  The real learning happens individually after walking away from a PD session that left your mind tingling.  PD becomes the seed planting rather than direct instruction when we believe that the learner is capable of going deep after the session ends.

I'm not sure, but I think principals would push against this model of PD largely because for them, PD isn't about learning -- it's about pushing forward district initiatives.  It's not development.  It's training teachers in practices that someone else has already decided are going to be a part of the work of the district.  Teachers will dig learning in the way you describe, but you probably won't get much on the clock time set aside by your principals unless you can convince them that the training they were going to offer will be addressed somewhere and by someone.  

Does that make any sense?  I hate that we have to consider things like this when it comes to adult learning, but the truth is that districts really do want to roll things out in consistent ways -- and that's what PD usually becomes.  To make your plan successful, you're going to have to address that reality. 

Bill

Photo of Laura Terrazas
Team

I like this idea. I love learning - but I do not like listening to people speak from PowerPoint presentations. I was recently at a Learning and the Brain conference and this idea was brought up as well (well lecturing only 15-20 min). My concern was - how deep can you get on a topic in 15-20 min. With your idea of having it a few days in a row, it would allow for people to walk away and think about it and generate questions to allow for a deeper understanding.

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

I agree, I have often worried that by keeping the learning short we can't go as deep. The idea of letting people "marinade" on an idea overnight really resonates with me. I am one of those people that need a bit of time to process what I just learned or heard. Usually, I will have a new thought based off of something that happened the day before in the morning as I am getting ready for work. By learning in little snippets and given processing time, I am able to approach the next sessions with questions to deepen my own learning, as you mentioned. This is a key component of my idea. Thank you for helping me come to that realization. Definitely something I need to incorporate into my idea.

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

Can you send me your email address? You could DM me on twitter @michaelschurr1

Photo of Laura Terrazas
Team

Will do.

Photo of Laura Terrazas
Team

Hi you need to follow me in order for me to DM you.

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

whats your twitter handle?

Photo of Laura Terrazas
Team

@LauraTerrazas6

Photo of John Faig
Team

I like modeling PD after teaching best practices.  A brief presentation (15-20 minutes) to lay the groundwork, followed by a collaborative activity and a reflection.  It is also important to give teachers a chance to practice their new skill.  PD often does not lead to better teaching because teachers don't have an opportunity to practice and hone the next skill.
p.s. please share the GDoc with me...

Photo of Heather Tyler
Team

Laura Terrazas and Michael Schurr , I don't know if it was mentioned elsewhere, but I think some of the most effective (and deep) opportunities for PD can be 15-20 minutes because they are so much more digestible.  For example, a teacher could present a need (engaging all students in academic discussion), briefly talk about the benefits of a strategy to meet that need as observed in the classroom, then model the strategy with the staff.  I did this yesterday at our staff meeting and I think it was highly effective because it was clear, specific, and something that most teachers could apply the next day.  I received immediate positive feedback on both the presentation and the strategy shared, which is how I determined that it was successful.  One teacher caught me in the parking lot and said she was planning on trying it out the next day!  

I hope this idea can help out with your project.  :)

Photo of Ashley Haskins
Team

I'd like to join this team. 

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

Of course. Email me at michael@teachersguild.org and I will invite you into our gdoc

Photo of Cristy Pollak
Team

This sounds great- but I think I would love to share it in real time with a couple of colleagues and then talk about it in the moment. Maybe Administrators could send a link for staff to watch one or two together at Staff meetings or open Leadership meetings with one.

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

Hi Cristy,

Thanks for your input! I would love your assistance to flesh this idea out. Can you email me at michael@teachersguild.org so I can invite to collaborate on my gdoc?

Photo of John Faig
Team

Awesome!  I can be reached at faigj at StPatsDc dot org.  Thanks.

Photo of chris fancher
Team

Some push back I envision - teachers who demand "their time." I've worked with too many teachers who complain about taking away from their day. So, How Might We find 30 minute periods in a day that allows for this great idea to happen? Could districts build in an additional 2.5 hours a week (30 per day) for Teacher Time? Could we have a late start day or an early release day once a week to do this idea in an Edcamp atmosphere? I've seen all of these done in schools. What else could we do?

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

Yes! I think finding the time could be relatively easy. It would be pitching it to admin to get approval. So, the pitch...what is the pitch? What is the value added? Chris, I'd love your help thinking this out. Can I share you on a gdoc to flesh this idea out? You could DM me on Twitter your email account.

Photo of chris fancher
Team

Absolutely! Let's do this. I look forward to being on the team.

Photo of Laurie Bartels
Team

I've been at a PreK-9 school that saved all the PD and big faculty meetings for Friday afternoons, with kids being dismissed at 12:30. The other part of the balance, however, was that Monday thru Thursday the school day went till 4:30.

Could teachers be polled as to what type of scheduling they would most appreciate, thereby potentially alleviating the grumbles? And maybe this polling could be done each year so that alternative voices had the opportunity to make suggestions and have those suggestions be selected.

Photo of Laura Terrazas
Team

Can I ask are you thinking of having a sub come in for 30 min periods each day or combining classes? are you a HS teacher or elementary? I am trying to figure out how to add 30 minutes each day- to me this seems difficult and so I would love to hear ideas.  I do see the push back on a daily- but I was thinking if there was a way to find 30 min each day a compromise that may be an incentive would be 2 times a week teacher time and 3 times a week for learning time- Maybe MWF learning time and TTH teacher time ( that may be there own or used to investigate more information on questions that they have on what was learned on MW.

Photo of John Faig
Team

I caution against the sub approach as most teachers are too caring to focus on the PD and will wonder about their class.

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

Hi John, 

Thank you for your insights. I would love you assistance to help flesh this idea out. Can you email me at michael@teachersguild.org so I can invite to collaborate on my gdoc?

Photo of Christy Novack
Team

Hi Michael,
This mirrors JOT PD For Staff  as well. Piece of the Pie also reflects getting to specifics. I totally agree. If anyone on this chain creates something, I would be also interested too.

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

Can you email me at michael@teachersguild.org so I can invite to collaborate on my gdoc?

Photo of Paula Marra
Team

Love this! Made me think about elevator pitches, being able to pass/share the information in a direct clear way.
I wonder how can we set this up! What if we try this out this coming week at our schools?

Photo of Margaret Powers
Team

This sounds like an awesome idea to prototype. I think by testing this out in a few different settings, we could discover what works well and what roadblocks exist. I imagine each school might need to implement it differently. Some schools might be able to have a delayed start, some might be able to use faculty meeting time, others could maybe do this in smaller groups during grade team meetings or before/after school or maybe lunch! I imagine each of those would present different opportunities and hurdles and that certain learning would be easier in these short blocks than others. I also wonder if there could be a way to capture and share out the short PD bites so others can learn from them or maybe add on? Could a larger "bite-size PD" library be created?

Photo of Chris Good
Team

Love the Pecha Kucha reference! I also appreciate Laura T.'s concern about the depth of learning from a 15-20 min experience.

That would be a problem if every 15 min segment was on a new topic.

But what if every 15 segment was a building block, small insights around one larger topic.

I listen to a lot of audiobooks in the car, and I often only get a few minutes of a book at a time. But that little clip sticks with me all day, and the next day i get to add to it and really-really start to UNDERSTAND it (not just comprehend it)

Sooooo... what if those 15 min segments happened every day? - All geared towards one issue, insight, or topic.

Photo of Laurie Bartels
Team

Quite like your suggestion of "faculty learning about their true interests and passions at their own rate." What about time 1/2 of the school year to focus on a passion of one's own, and time the other 1/2of the school year to focus on something out of one's comfort zone…

Photo of Michael Schurr
Team

Yes! So, 1/2 of the time should tie back to the schools mission statement and the other 1/2 could be for personal growth?

Photo of Laurie Bartels
Team

Yes, roughly 50/50. Though a case could be made that personal growth feeds into professional, perhaps even more than professional feeding into personal.

Building on the chat you and Chris are having about time during school for doing this, what about the school providing release time on a part or all of a school day (or days, depending upon the activity) where the faculty member can go off-campus. For more typical PD, such as conferences and workshops, that is exactly what happens. So why not let that happen for personal PD as well?

While at Rye I made the case that taking the weeklong Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain workshop would directly impact my skill at teaching animation using Flash. This was true, but I was more fully motivated by wanting to take the workshop for personal reasons. I participated in the workshop after school ended (just the convenience of the dates) and it was funded entirely by the school