I have presented a lot of sessions during different summits, conferences and workshops. I think I improved my craft as I experienced and as I observed my audience (through the interactions and feedback).
I think I understand now what a relevant and meaningful PD session looks like.
Let me first reuse some of my “Cognitive Coaching” learning. In Cognitive Coaching, there are 5 States of Mind: Interdependence, Flexibility, Efficacy, Consciousness and Craftsmanship.
As I learned about leading sessions and as I paused and thought about improving, every time, I discovered that a good PD session drew upon all the states of mind.
I also realized many small things that are important to consider. For example, considering the basic thing: what does the audience want? The participants to a session want:
- to learn something: nothing worse than no learning!
to share: their voice matter! They love to share their learning and also help other through peer-feedback
- to ask questions and clarifications: provide ways for people to feel comfortable doing that and check in regularly to make sure your audience is with you (and that the pace is appropriate for everyone)
- to feel supported by others: pairs people when you see they have similar needs, they will find support in each others and feel less isolated and more empowered
- to be reminded that everything has a context: help your audience with their context (e.g.: make connections to what they are teaching NOW, their new role or challenge etc) so that they understand they can use their learning right away!
Another very important thing to consider (and that, actually, not all participants are comfortable doing!) is to model practices that one could be using in the classroom with students, that means, it will involve creating an environment that invite people to take risks: a good PD session mirrors what the students would experience in an engaging learning environment: it’s highly collaborative, interactive, often unknown and encourage mistake-making for the sake of learning through trials and errors.
It also provides pauses, time to think, thinking and listening routine exercises and many possible plans to extend, change, adjust (plan A, B, C, D…. backups etc).