Teaching in the Classroom v. PD Session

Without a doubt, I am a project-based teacher. I have set aside the "sage on the stage" mentality and have embraced my role as one that guides and facilitates learning for my students. If you walk into my classroom, chances are you will find me on the side, monitoring students, answering questions, or providing assistance where needed.

But during my professional development sessions, I'm back in front of the 'class', with the learning and focus back on me. I know that its true; after sessions I would be exhausted from all the talking and would walk away wondering if the attendees got anything from my presentations. While the official feedback from the attendees were mostly positive, my worries were confirmed with the constructive feedback that I needed to make it more hands-on.

#perfectionistsworstnightmare #imtheworst #whyme

Then I realized: I have *mostly* embraced failure in my classroom, but not in my professional development sessions. #fail

August rolled around and I had my moment of redemption: presenting at CUE Rock Star Los Alamitos. I attended Oxnard last year so I was ready to take my PD sessions to the next level with CUE Rockstar's famous "hands-on" learning model. My "Achievement Unlocked: Student Engagement" was easy enough to modify since it naturally gives attendees the opportunity to explore and try new apps but my "PBL" presentation needed some work.

Since the whole presentation is about designing project-based units, I created a planning guide that was modeled about BIE.org planner and the Minarets Signature Project planner. To start, I gave a 'refresher' on project-based learning and the key components of well-designed PBL. I was nervous that saying 'ok, good luck' wouldn't be enough support for newbies so I showed them the planning guie and then modeled key components for one my favorite project-based units: Down with the Sickness. The attendees could then explore some of the templates and tools I use in my classroom and start working on their own planning guide.

As a result, the majority of the session involved the attendees planning and working on their own units as I walked around and provided support. I felt a little out of place and felt like I needed to be leading or talking or doing something, but then I remembered that feeling was also there the first few times I facilitated PBL.

Los Alamitos on the Last Day
Now, this session was definitely far from perfect (I felt like I still talked too much and could engage more), but I felt I made a step in the right direction, especially since it was my first time presenting at #cuerockstar. It made me realize that while classroom and PD settings are very different, the teaching style in those two environments do not need to differ. Just like my students, the attendees benefit and grow more from hands-on learning even if they are initially resistant to it.  And just like in the classroom, failure needs to be celebrated even when you make mistakes in a PD session.

What are your thoughts? Is there a difference between teaching in those two environments? Let me know below. Poll will close on August 13th at 7pm.

Is there a difference between teaching in a classroom setting compared in a professional development setting?

survey maker


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