Monday, June 27, 2011

Reflection of Organizing a School-Wide PD Day

On Tuesday, June 14, 2010, I ran a Professional Development Day for staff at the Jackson Area Career Center (JACC). I organized, planned and presented at the PD Day.  Below, I will talk about the Process, the Good, the Bad, and the Conclusion.


Resources:



THE PROCESS
The idea originated while I was at edCampDetroit back on May 7th. This unconference was an awesome learning tool (the sessions and the format). The format basically showed me the staff at JACC could run their own conference! I just had to organize it! :)



I went to my Principal, Patty Horning. She loved the idea!  Patty said she really wants me to start taking a leadership role, and this PD Day is just the idea she was hoping for.  After talking with her, I decided to predetermine the sessions, instead of creating the schedule the morning of (as edCamps do).  Once the idea of "us helping us" sinks in, and maybe having a PD Day on a larger scale (we only have 33 classroom teachers at JACC), we could follow the edCamp scheduling system, etc.

With my Principal's blessing, I started to create an informational email.  When I was almost done composing the email, I realized a screencast video would be much cooler and appropriate.  I used Prezi and Camtasia to create the PD Day intro video I sent to staff.  Side note: Prezi is way cool but a little awkward and picky.  The Paths feature is quite annoying at times. (just my .02).  In the email, I also included a Google Docs Form to survey the staff for their wants/needs and to see what they would be willing to present. - a total of 12 staff members submitted the form (out of 33 teachers).

With the survey info, I started to plan the day.  I originally had three sessions per time slot.  I wanted to cover so many ideas.  However, I could only be in one place a time, and there weren't any other educators either knowledgeable or willing to run a session that already weren't.  So, I had to put the schedule to two sessions per time slot.  This actually worked out very well, since not all staff were present, and we only have 33 teachers to begin with.  I decided to put the schedule on Crocodoc, because I wanted to show the staff a web 2.0 tool where the user can annotate documents online -- another reason for (and a way how) to go green and go paperless.  As you can see from the schedule on Crocodoc, there were changes, and the annotation ability of Crocodoc made it easy to change the schedule. -- FYI: I still printed them off for those that like paper in their hands -- paperless isn't for everyone, I guess.

Another thing I remembered from edCampDetroit was the sponsors.  There were general sponsors that gave away door prizes, and there was the breakfast sponsor.  So, I headed out to the big city of Jackson to see who I could get to sponsor this PD Day.  I initially stopped at a bakery (chain) to ask them, and they gave me their regional manager's contact info.  I then went to a consumer electronics store (chain) and they had me fill out a form and they said they would contact me later.  side note: I hit the pavement WAY too close the PD Day date.  Many of my "no"s probably resulted because of that.  I went to a local restaurant, and their manager was gone for the day.  My first actual "YES" came from Buffalo Barbeque Wings!!!  I went to another local restaurant, and their manager/owner was gone, too.  side note: don't try to get stuff from restaurants on a Monday - apparently, that is the manager's their day off!!!  I tried another consumer electronics store (local), and they said "no."  Later that night, I went to dinner at an awesome, locally owned restaurant Steaks Eatery, and I asked for donations there... and they said "YES."  I still had to find some breakfast food.  I didn't want to go to the (chain) place that turned me down earlier.  So, I (actually, my wife) went to Meijer (local supermart) to pick up bagels, cream cheese, fruit, water and juice.  I also contacted Ric Wiltse with MACUL, and they gave me two complementary memberships.

The day before the PD Day, some workers came into my room to set a new audio/visual projection system.  The bad news is that they weren't going to be done until the middle of the following day, as in, PD Day!!!  So, I had to move my sessions to another computer lab room.

The day of the Professional Development, I went to school real early to set up the food and drinks.  I had to stop off at a gas station for a couple bags of ice for the drinks, etc.  When I arrived at school, I scrambled around, trying to find dishes for the fruit in our culinary arts kitchen.  Finally, the room was all set and ready to go.

The Opening Session was on Flipping the Classroom Presentation (Google Doc).  I know this is a somewhat-controversial topic, but I presented it in a way that made sense for the Career Center.  At the Career Center, we teach hands-on skills geared for being job-ready or career-ready.  We already teach labs (majority).  I thought flipping the class could be used for all of the "stuff" that had added to our curriculums over the past few years (by the state or our administration).

Now for the concurrent sessions.  Between the schedule and the resource doc, you can pretty much see what the sessions were all about.  They all went well.  I talked with people throughout the day, and they said they liked them and learned a lot.  One thing I do want to say, and I said to the attendees in my sessions, is that I presented a TON of stuff.  It was more of a quick overview as opposed to how-to's.  I did this, because I wanted to share as much as possible, but I also knew my audience was people I worked with.  Therefore, if they wanted more help/insight/etc, they know where to find me... and it's easy to find me.

Over the next few days, I was approached by many staff members (the principal, main secretary, other teachers, etc.) telling me that they either heard great things about the day or experienced it.  It felt great to be thanked and praised by so many of my peers.


THE GOOD (what I would do again)

  • The JACC PD DAY concept (us helping us) - I would totally organize another PD Day at our school.  I think now that I did this one, staff knows what to expect and might participate even more, etc.
  • Format - I think the format of asking for input yet creating the schedule ahead of time best fit our needs.
  • Food - The staff really appreciated the bagels, etc.  I just wish a bakery would have donated them.
  • Timing - The PD Day was on the third-to-last day of school (which was also the third day without students).  Many staff either already took personal days or needed to work in their classrooms.  In the future, I would like the PD Day to held on a day that teachers are required to be there. - Actually, our county has set aside two days this upcoming school year for county-wide PD (not necessarily all together in the same place, but at least at the same time). - If I have my way, we will run a PD Day at JACC again with it open to the whole county.
  • Sessions - All of the sessions were a big hit (minus my afternoon ones - see below).



THE BAD (what I would change)

  • Asking for donations - I waited way too long for this.  Also, I am not really into soliciting for free stuff.  If I try this part next time, I might try to delegate this duty. :)
  • Rooms - We have a PD room in our school that was already booked by an outside school.  Next time, I want to plan this so far in advance that we get our own room.  Overall, the room situations worked out.  If anything, it got people around to other people's classroom that they normally don't visit.
  • Sessions - Beside the "SmartBoard Showdown," the afternoon sessions were poorly attended.  I know the other sessions would have been really good for the staff.  I just think since it was the end of the year, it wasn't mandatory, it was after lunch, they've already learned so much, etc., many of the staff just wanted to be in their classrooms.  I don't know what would make this better.  Maybe the set-aside county-wide PD days next year... or, two half-days... or, better door prizes at the end :)



THE CONCLUSIONS
It was a lot of work, and very well worth it!  I think it has started a new way of thinking in our building.  I have been approached by a couple other JACC teachers about organizing another PD Day for us and possibly for all of Jackson County.  This was a great experience.  I plan to continue being a teacher-leader in my school... not only for technology but also with respect to our local PLN.


    Links/Sources:

    • edCampDetroit
    • unconference
    • Prezi - way better than PowerPoint!!!
    • Camtasia - best screencasting software out there!
    • MACUL - if you are a teacher in (or near) Michigan and haven't attended MACUL's conference, you should!


    Great Food in the Jackson Michigan Area:



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