Five Hacks For Making Professional Learning Stick

Seminars that Stick


Any teacher can tell you they’ve logged numerous hours of professional development. Sometimes the hours are well spent, but sometimes teachers leave wondering if the day away from their classroom was really worth it. Follow these teacher-approved tips to help your seminar earn a gold star.   

Break it Up

Any good public speaker will tell you to know your audience. Your audience is teachers. Teachers spend most of their days moving around and multi-tasking: be it teaching a lesson while managing student behavior, grading papers while supervising study hall or tying shoes while helping students line up for gym. Teachers aren’t used to sitting still, so an extended lecture is sure to leave them itching to stretch their legs. Try breaking up your content with meaningful activities and allowing teachers time to talk to one another and process what they’re learning. 

Use What you Teach

Nothing inspires good teaching like seeing good teaching. If your topic is hands on science, let the teachers try out an experiment; if it’s literature circles, get some book discussions going. As facilitators, teachers rarely get to experience the learning as their students do, so take this opportunity to turn the tables and let the teachers experience your content first hand. 

Keep it Practical

Many a teacher has left a seminar with an amazing dream of transforming her classroom only to realize that she doesn’t have the tools to make it happen. Empower your teachers by giving them practical steps to use your material when they return to the classroom. Give them something, no matter how small, that they can use in their classroom the very next day. 

Give Time

End your seminar with processing and prep time. Teachers are busy and many of them are already dedicating hours of unpaid time to their classrooms. Even thirty minutes of time to collaborate with other teachers and make a plan to put their new learning to use will be a welcome gift. 

Have an Exit Ticket

Take a cue from elementary school and ask your teachers to turn in an “exit ticket,” a small paper stating one way they plan to apply today’s learning in their classroom tomorrow. This accountability forces teachers to think of one practical step. Once they’ve identified that step and written it down they’re much more likely to make it happen.


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