The Secret to Leading Effective Professional Development by David Knuffke



The Secret to Leading Effective Professional Development


Secret by Greg Beck from the Noun Project

I will now share with you the secret to running effective professional development sessions. This secret will always make your professional development more effective than it would be otherwise. It is the single-most valuable thing that I have ever done during any of the various professional development sessions that I have run during my career, and the thing that I have most enjoyed as a participant in countless others. It is also one of the least utilized professional development techniques. It will not take long for me to explain it to you.

Are you ready? Here it is:

Make the participants in your professional development do something.

That’s it. That’s the only thing you need to substantially de-crappify the PD that you are offering. Simply have the people who have come to your session do things. In other words, don’t just talk at them.

I’m sure it seems simple, but the amount of professional development where people are talked at for the duration of the session is shockingly large. For some reason, while we would never accept this from a teacher working with students, when it comes to an adult working with other adults we frequently seem to default to stand-and-delivering.

It doesn’t have to be this way. If you’ve ever been tasked with delivering PD, and you find yourself working up a session where it’s looking like you are going to be talking at your participants, just stop it. Change your approach, or throw some things to do into the mix just to break up the talking, or at the very least stop calling it professional development. Because the only thing that is being developed is resentment by those people who find themselves bored to tears in your session.

Effective PD == Making participants do things.

It really is that simple*

Have you had a terrible PD experience? Or have you had an amazing time being talked at for an hour? Or maybe you just want to shoot the breeze? Drop me a line and say howdy. I’m a pretty friendly guy.

*Okay, obviously it’s not really that simple. There’s a lot more that’s happening in well-planned and thoughtful professional development. But if you have been suffering from poor PD, it’s pretty amazing how much of that is due to being talked-at. Start by changing this, and the rest of it will follow


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