Working in a Michigan public school is a tremendous honor and a tremendous responsibility. Each year, it seems more and more is being added to the plate of many Michigan educators. That is why, when I was tasked with developing professional development, I looked for ways that I could make it more fun and enjoyable. It also provided me with a tremendous social experiment in what works for teachers and what does not.
One of the things that I wanted to try in this new position was the idea of developing Lunch & Learns. The idea behind the Lunch & Learn was to develop quick, meaningful professional development on technology tools and ideas to the staff during the day. The idea was to offer various topics multiple times per week and have an open door policy, inviting staff to come in and ask questions about the different topics at hand. As we are new to the 1-1 computing idea, I thought it would develop quickly and be something fun. The idea was to help the professional capacity of the staff grow.
The idea I thought was a good one, but it started off slow. One thing that I did not take into consideration was how busy the teachers are, and how the half-hour of duty free lunch was a blessing. Many of our teachers have forgone a prep period this year to help with two large grade level classes. I was trying to do this twice a week with vague session titles. The attendance was extremely low. This meant I had to go back to the drawing board on the topics.
I solicited feedback from the staff on what would be most useful. Many of them said that two times a week was difficult and that the topics were not that useful. I asked them for suggestions on what to use and how I could improve. I started to look at ways that I could easily manage and develop the sessions. So, I redesigned what I was going to do. I took the suggestions to heart and will be launching a new series, still at lunch, focused on specific topics on specific days. I have put the schedule out early and have provided detailed session descriptions as we move forward. This will be an experiment that allows me to know what works and doesn’t work. I have the full support of the administration and we are considering supplying food occasionally as well. The goal is to develop embedded, meaningful professional development within the school day, cutting down on the need for extra hours in the future.
So far, I am extremely encouraged by the support and the direction that we are heading. As we approach the next few months, I am beyond excited to see if the shifts increase attendance and how it might impact student learning and the professional capacity of school personnel as we move forward.