Embedded Professional Development
All effective professional development is, at its core, customized and specific to the goals of the group and the needs of the participants. It may be delivered from a distance, in an off-site setting, in a technology-rich environment, or in the very work environment of the participants.
Embedded Professional Development is the most powerful method of professional development I have ever facilitated. Embedded Professional Development takes place in the classrooms, libraries or media labs of the participants. There is no "workshop", it is on-the-job learning. As teachers work with students, the Professional Developer offers suggestions, models strategies with students, and team-teaches with an attention to technologies, management and outcomes. Sometimes there are opportunities to label behaviors and explain strategies as they are used, other times a brief discussion follows the experience. This method of professional development has yielded incredible results, in part because teachers can see it working in their own classrooms with their own technologies and their own students.
Other Professional Development
Workshops and seminars can offer opportunities to move educators forward with the technical or pedagogical behaviors, strategies, techniques and methods needed. These are best when they are focused and have clear goals and purposes, especially if the participants have helped to create these goals and purposes.
Presentations and demonstrations can motivate, pique interest, highlight needs or inspire action. Short presentations or demonstrations can also provide specific content. I find these most useful if timely and integrated into a larger plan of action.
Webinars and Learning from a Distance can also be effective tools. The biggest challenge of these modes of professional development is the difficulty in providing the kind of personalized and specific examples, techniques, content, and methodologies when the facilitator is distanced from the location, environment and experiences of the learners. One model which is helping to bridge some of this is providing a more practical and interactive model of webinar. In this model, which I instituted in a webinar series I hosted for ISTE, the webinar is focused on a specific tool or task and the content flow moves from lower-level content - what the tool is and how it works - to higher level uses, and leverages quiet, supported time for learners to try the tool and work toward application of the tool and/or methodology, all within one webinar session. Ongoing support and discussion is provided via wiki and other asynchronous methods.
All professional development I provide is customized for the learners and their goals. Here is a short list of some recent professional development topics I have facilitated:
Here are a couple of examples of resource sites for recent workshops: