In the News: Bringing Students into Professional Development

Instead of using professional development workshop time making assumptions about students, we should get their input beforehand.

Professional development is evolving. Slowly but surely, schools and organizations are attempting to move away from the typical sit-and-get workshop and creating formats that promote problem solving and boost participant engagement. This has led to a rise in professional development that makes educators the drivers of innovation.

This trend is awesome.

The problem: Participants are forced to make a lot of assumptions about their students because they’re not given a chance to include those students in the process.

Why Students Need to be a Part of It
One reason student voice might not be commonplace in professional learning is because it’s not always convenient to capture, but that’s changing. It might require a bit more planning, but the advantages make it worth the effort.

The hardest part of planning for student voice is giving teachers enough time in advance to collect student feedback. But professional development facilitators should take that step, because incorporating student voice has several benefits:

Provides clarity: Planning for student voice forces the facilitator to get organized quickly by establishing clear goals, objectives, and tasks so the participants have adequate time and guidance as to how they will gather student feedback and understand how it will be used during their session.

Builds relationships: When facilitators ask teachers to engage their students in their professional learning, professional development becomes something we do with students and not just for students. We gain invaluable insights that enable us to use professional development more effectively, and students feel like their opinions are valued.

Boosts engagement and collaboration: Lectures and other types of sit-and-gets often prevent anyone, let alone students, from having a voice. Incorporating student voice challenges the facilitator to think through the format of the workshop so that activities align and participants engage with student feedback in a hands-on way.

Prepares teachers for professional development: When participants have had the opportunity to collect student feedback, they can personalize professional learning to fit their needs. During sessions, they can better anticipate opportunities and constraints to apply their learning to instruction or other challenges.

By bringing students’ perspectives into our professional learning, we stay grounded and focused. Their feedback allows us to prioritize what we take back to the classroom and how we address challenges, and it allows us to develop new ideas to improve teaching and learning.

Read the full article at