When you think of Professional Development, what comes to mind? I have attended a number of different teacher in services and seminars, and almost all have included some type of PowerPoint presentation with little to know audience participation. And, while I am a fairly self-motivated individual, if the topic was of little to no interest to me, I would simply collect my CPDUs and go home never to touch upon the topic presented again. It made me think a little more deeply (after the fact) about the situation I am going to describe here and what makes for good Professional Development.
Recently I was given the opportunity to make a Professional Development presentation to a group of my colleagues. I had decided to demonstrate some of my favorite Web 2.0 tools as well as share some suggestions for educational uses. I knew that this group was very proficient with technology so the tools I chose had to be dynamic and something interesting to the audience. While I had a general idea of the tools I wanted to showcase, I collected information from my audience in advance through the use of a survey prepared using Google forms. After reviewing the form, I had decided to prepare a presentation with various links to six Web 2.0 tools. Having taught Computer Technology for a few years, I know how to create slides that do not contain too much information, knowing that I would add to the information on the slides as I went through my presentation. I had worked on the presentation and once I felt that my visual was ready, I developed a dialog to go along with the information on the slides so that I did not just rely on my memory. Finally, I practiced my presentation for several days prior to the actual event to ease my own nervousness.
I attended the class that was the impetus for the Professional Development assignment the night before. Ironically enough, the in class assignment was to get together in a group and develop a Professional Development presentation in thirty minutes, including a way of assessment about the training. While at first the task seemed daunting, the four groups were very successful and I was able to utilize one of the tools I would be showcasing the next evening in my group's activity.
While I felt that my presentation was well received and that the Web 2.0 tools would be used by my classmates to enhance their teaching, upon reflection, there are things I definitely should have done differently. I did not have any type of hands-on activity that my classmates certainly would have been welcome to. I did give examples of educational uses for the tools presented, demonstrated how to use them, and expressed my frustration with how to utilize one of the tools I had decided to present. But, in the end had I really provided Professional Development or simply a presentation? In all honesty, it was definitely more of a presentation. True Professional Development must include some type of follow through to determine if the audience actually found some use of the tools presented or not. It can never be a one shot deal.
I am going to stop beating myself up over this. My own experience in attending in-services and seminars led me to think that all I would need to do is present the tools and the audience would use them if they had a need. Sort of a "If you build it, they will come mentality." Maybe I was successful in introducing them to something new but it may have been a lot more enlightening for them if they had actually had a chance to try. Next time!