I recently lead a professional development session for a school that was piloting a chromebook program. I was extremely pleased when the superintendent asked me if it would be OK if students attended the training. After creating what I hoped would be a meaningful day of PD, I headed out for the training. I was a bit surprised and concerned when I arrived on site and saw the participants. The group of students was larger than I expected and also quite a bit younger. The students outnumbered the teachers and the largest number of students were in fifth grade. Although I taught fifth grade, I was a bit apprehensive about how the day would go with the group. My apprehensions proved to be totally unfounded, and I absolutely enjoyed the time I spent with the group. According to their feedback, the group was also pleased with the day. As I reflected back on the day and compared it to other sessions I’ve led, I really believe the students had a large impact on the success of the day. So what were some of the differences I noticed…
All participants stayed extremely positive and energetic for the entire day. It is tough for adults or students to sit in the same room and listen to the same person for an entire day. As I left the room at the end of the training, the energy level seemed to be as high as when I began.
I always encourage participants to help one another when I teach them how to use various tools. The culture of helping one another during this training may have been higher than I have ever seen previously. Contrary to the belief of many, the students didn’t have all of the answers and some weren’t as tech savvy as others. The teachers helped the students and the students also certainly helped the teacher. I’d be curious to know how that impacted the culture of their classrooms in the future.
I believe the group being extremely willing to explore can be attributed to the presence of the students. Their curiosity and inquisitive nature were contagious.
I don’t want to oversimplify the many components that went into a successful professional development session. I’m certain that one success factor was that the teachers in attendance were a group who were excited and willing to learn about ways they could use technology to change their classrooms. However, I genuinely believe that the students in attendance helped create an environment that isn’t typical of professional development at schools. Are your students involved in professional development?