Student participation in professional development

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?

Nick Sauers


  1. @paulkellybc says:

    I loved read­ing this post — I wanted to hear how the stu­dents were involved in Pro-D. I have not expe­ri­enced stu­dents in Pro-D, but I have been very close to hav­ing them con­tribute to staff selec­tion.
    There are many peo­ple who are knowl­edge­able about a topic. But, as far as I’m con­cerned, for my high school, the con­nec­tion between teacher and stu­dent is as vital as the con­tent. As an inde­pen­dent school we have much more free­dom in our hir­ing processes. So, I have debated hav­ing a panel of stu­dents sit in and meet a few pos­si­ble teacher can­di­dates. I truly value their input.
    Any­ways, thanks for the post. Paul

  2. Alejandra Woodrum says:

    Nick, You did an excel­lent job and we can’t wait to have you back. We were also ner­vous about hav­ing the kids there but at the end of the day, the kids were the ones that got the most of the ses­sion and were the most entu­si­ast about it! they are still fire up and lov­ing the chrome­books. They are very good teacher’s helpers. By the way, that also help us tech­nol­ogy guys :) .

  3. Kristal Harne says:

    Nick, we greatly appre­ci­ated the wel­com­ing envi­ron­ment at our Chrome­book PD. Our stu­dents truly felt val­ued. The excite­ment has most def­i­nitely trans­ferred to the class­room. Our stu­dent team has been work­ing hard dur­ing and after­school to train other stu­dent lead­ers, so that each time we do some­thing new with our Chrome­books we have 6–8 experts in the class­room instead of just me. I think there is def­i­nitely some­thing to be con­sid­ered here…students could be just what our pro­fes­sional devel­op­ments are miss­ing! PS If you hap­pen to find your way back our way, you are always wel­come to stop by LES to visit Chrome­books in action!

  4. Nick Sauers says:


    Another exam­ple I didn’t share in this post is that of stu­dents lead­ing pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment. I’ve heard exam­ples of stu­dents as young as lower ele­men­tary aged stu­dents lead­ing pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment for teach­ers. I also was a par­tic­i­pant in a ses­sion led by Emi­nence Supt. Buddy Berry and his 3rd grade (I believe) daugh­ter who led the major­ity of the ses­sion. The feed­back from par­tic­i­pants was over­whelm­ingly positive!

    Nick Sauers

  5. Nick Sauers says:

    Thanks Ale­jan­dra,

    I should also have men­tioned how help­ful you and Roy were at the train­ing. Your sup­port for myself as well as stu­dents and fac­ulty really helped things move smoothly.


  6. Nick Sauers says:


    Thanks for the com­ment. Another col­league who is a national leader in 1:1 schools emailed me about the post. She was extremely impressed with the PD and wanted to know more about the school. My response was that I truly believe this will be one of the more inno­v­a­tive schools in Ken­tucky in the very near future. I hope to be able to come back and see some of the great things hap­pen­ing in your school!


  7. Melissa Griffith says:

    This pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment ses­sion was one of the best I have ever had the oppor­tu­nity to attend. Hav­ing the stu­dents there to learn with us was def­i­nitely moti­va­tional and brought out the best in every­one. The stu­dents we brought were absolutely ecsta­tic about their involve­ment and loved the “hands-on” learn­ing they were involved in. Of course, no pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment can truly be suc­cess­ful with­out an excep­tional leader. Thank you Mr. Sauers!

  8. Nick Sauers says:

    Thanks for the kind words Melissa! It was also one of the favorite PD ses­sions I’ve led because of the group. Hope to hear more great things com­ing out of Casey County!


  9. @paulkellybc says:

    Hi Nick, thanks for reply­ing to my com­ment above. Just wanted to say that our school is in our 4th year of 1:1, but this year we have gone GAFE and Chrome­books for our grade 10–11-12s. The past 3 years we have had crappy Net­books, but this year we found pilot-project money for new hard­ware.
    Kids can BYOD in any grade, but all kids in 10–11-12 must have a device (larger than a cell). If they have their own — great. If not, we sup­ply them with a 24–7 Chrome­book for the year. So far it has been awe­some. GAFE as a school has been won­der­ful — col­lab­o­ra­tion and ease of access to infor­ma­tion are top notch. It works won­der­fully with Moo­dle also.
    Keep typ­ing — love your blog!

  10. Nick Sauers says:

    I’d love to hear more about your process and I’d cer­tainly wel­come a guest post on the topic :)

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