5 Tips for a Great Professional Development or Training Session
Updated: Sep 7, 2021
Professional Development has taken on a much different shape these past few years (especially now amid the COVID-19 shutdown). There are so many programs and software to be trained on, it can be quite overwhelming. In some cases, you may even be asked to present to your staff or a conference about your expertise on that program. Here are some tips and tricks on how to make the most of your time so your attendees walk away feeling excited and ready to go try it out in their classrooms!
Tip #1: Be Interactive!
Does it make you wonder why most presenters nowadays are always talking about how we can’t just lecture to kids and expect them to learn, yet that seems to be the typical means of how it’s delivered to teachers? Why should it be any different for us? After learning the content, we believe that one of the best means to making it stick is to get in there and play with some of these awesome programs! Now granted, you might be limited on what your Wi-Fi can handle...(isn’t it funny that at tech conferences, the Wi-Fi seems to be its least effective feature sometimes?), but I’m sure the teachers you are training would appreciate some hands-on experience as opposed to you just talking at them. You are taking a bit of a risk doing this, because we’re sure you have had those magic moments with tech, where something doesn’t go right in the classroom. We suggest building up your confidence by leading these kinds of activities in a smaller training, where you can troubleshoot easier before attempting it with a larger group. Depending on your comfort level with technology, you are likely to have to slow down and answer some questions. It may also help you learn more about the product you are training on! The main thinking behind adding activities like this, is that your audience is likely to just jump into this on their own once they leave!
The great thing about most of the platforms you are using is they make it so easy to jump right in! Flipgrid for example, how easy is it to give a little background information on the basics of what it is, what it is for, and how it works...then have the participants make a Flipgrid themselves! We like the approach of “I do, we do, you do.” This way, they will be likely to go try it out on their classes as quickly as possible!
Tip #2: Practice Ahead of Time
Obviously, if we stress that students practice their presentations ahead of time, it’s a no brainer that we do so ourselves. Most of us have attended a presentation that we have contemplated leaving or got up and left. Luckily for us, the power of artificial intelligence is on our side and Microsoft EDU is putting it to work! If you create your presentations on PowerPoint, there is a wonderful tool available to use, and it will even give you feedback! PowerPoint Rehearsal Coach is the coolest new feature that you can use to help make your presentations the best they can be! If you use it effectively, you can also stress to your students just how awesome it is so they will be likely to use it too before they give a huge presentation. Some great ways to add some interactive elements would be to integrate Pear Deck or Nearpod so your audience can answer and give feedback while your presentation is going. (Plus, coming soon, you’ll be able to do something like this with PowerPoint Live!)
(PowerPoint Rehearsal Coach)
If PowerPoint is not your favorite presentation software, there are several viable alternatives to spark your interest! Microsoft also offers the digital storytelling program Sway. Programs like Buncee, Genially, and even Wakelet can give you some new ways to deliver your content. Find what is right for you and your comfort level but look like a pro when doing it!
Tip #3: Effective Communication
Just like it’s important to practice ahead of time, making the most out of your presentation is extremely important. Choosing what to include (and maybe more importantly what not to!) on your slide could be a breaking point of how you get your message across. Students are notorious for putting every word they are saying on the slide and then reading it word for word. You would be surprised at how many adults and teachers who follow the same practice. By including the most powerful words, images, and phrases they are more likely to remember your content as opposed to all that text on the screen (and might make them listen harder!). Your comfort level will increase the more you are in front of a crowd. This will help so you don’t sound so scripted, but if all else fails make sure you go back to tip #2 and practice what to say for each slide ahead of time!
Tip #4: Share Resources!
If you’re a teacher, you know just how important sharing is. There are many popular websites out there that “crowd source” materials and resources, but the only bummer is that sometimes it costs money. At a conference or training, attendees usually already paid a fee, so why not give them access to your presentation or materials? Have you ever watched those teachers who take pictures of each slide with their phone (or gasp…even an iPad!)? Doesn’t it seem like such an outdated practice knowing just how easy it is to share these resources with your audience? The great thing about PowerPoint or Slides (or even Buncee, Wakelet, etc.) is how a simple link can take you to all of that content and give them back the power to be an attentive audience not. This will help with scrambling for their phones or daresay ask you to go back a slide to get that precious photo. The teachers in your presence will appreciate it so much, so they can take it and look at it at their own pace, or maybe even share it with their friends! Just remember, you might want to make sure you put a watermark or branding on your slides, so you receive the proper credit when they do!
Tip #5: Remote Trainings and Webinars
Professional development and trainings have taken on new meanings in the age of COVID-19. The beauty of it all, is there has been so much choice and opportunities for you to learn new programs, or learn nuances about ones you already use you didn’t know (eTwinz rocked that Microsoft EDU Teams webinar!). In fact, one of the better platforms that we have seen people use during all this is Microsoft Teams. If you are a MIE Expert you have already seen over the last year how great this works for a large group share out, and even more so now! Producing an event or even just a call leaves for a great opportunity for all the necessary audience to join in and learn! Not a knock to other programs like Zoom (holy cow has it gotten a lot of press over the last couple months!), but we prefer to use Teams because there is so much more you can do within it than just have a group call. It is a super functional all in one program that is just as great in the classroom as well! Plus, there have been many resources shared out about the various functions of this platform that you can definitely research this summer or up your game if you’re an experienced user!
Of course, there are so many more programs that we didn’t mention that you could use or present on. These are only the start of what you’ll need to get prepared, but hopefully this gives you a little more confidence as you approach your training. Make sure you keep an eye out on Twitter or other social media so you can find trainings and webinars that you might be interested in attending, or eventually presenting at yourself someday!
About the authors
Nik dresang & Tim Galles
Nik and Tim are two amazing Tech Directors, MIEE, Wakelet Ambassadors, Minecraft Mentors and Flipgrid Ambassadors.