At the height of summer, we hope you’re taking the time to rest, relax, and recover from last school year. Even so, many of you are likely already prepping for what's next! New school years often kick off with teacher workdays dedicated to Professional Learning, and a well-planned, engaging session can help start a school year on the right foot!
Whether you’re helping coordinate sessions or simply an enthusiastic participant, we’ve picked 10 of our favorite SOS Instructional Strategies for a fresh take on PL. Use these to maximize your summer learning, encourage active participation, and make valuable connections with other educators. And the best part? You can easily take these back to the classroom to engage students!
Break the Ice
A new school year means bringing together new staff and a chance to strengthen your school community. Check out these strategies to help break the ice between new people and facilitate productive conversations!
- Try Tabletop Texting to give each attendee a voice and avoid everyone talking all at once. When bringing together new groups of people, it’s important to provide a safe space where everyone feels comfortable contributing.
- Three Truths… One Lie can be a fun and easy icebreaker for participants to introduce themselves or for the facilitator to introduce a topic related to the session.
- One highlight of bringing teachers together for professional learning is seeing how different experiences can bring forth new ideas. Four Corners is a great way to help participants share with each other and explore different viewpoints of a discussion topic.
Check out educator-facing videos and downloadable PDFs for each strategy in our SOS Top 10: Professional Learning Studio Board!
Summarize Key Ideas & Details
- Another favorite among many of our users, AEIOU can serve as a great exit ticket that summarizes key ideas and details from the professional learning session.
- ABC Summary can help wrap up professional learning or staff day sessions with a collective summarization of what was covered. For this strategy, collect A-Z responses with traditional paper-and-pencil submissions or in a digital format, then share the outcome as a collaborative summary so teachers can revisit the information long after the session has finished!
- Increase engagement and give everyone an opportunity to summarize and share key takeaways with Sticky Back! This can also be used as a management strategy, with a variety of colored sticky notes allowing participants to respond to multiple prompts.
Analyze & Synthesize Information
Take professional learning to the next level by pausing to analyze what’s been covered in the session and how it applies to the participants’ teaching practice. Use these strategies throughout the session to check in on progress or at the end of a session to help make connections between the topic and how it will apply to future work in the classroom.
- Six Word Story can help presenters gauge where teachers are in their learning. Responses that indicate teachers are overwhelmed might mean it’s time for a break, while indications of confusion might mean it’s time to revisit and clarify material.
- A favorite in Discovery Education PL sessions, Placemat helps ensure all participants have equal voice and accountability for participation when summarizing a concept.
- 3-2-1 Pyramid gives participants an excellent way to wrap up a professional learning session. Ask teachers to synthesize their experience by listing three things they learned, two people they will share those things with when they return to school, and one thing they will commit to using in their classrooms in the coming weeks.
- The last of our Top Ten list, check out Connect the Dots to encourage deeper thinking and more in-depth responses to session topics.
While there is still plenty of summertime left to enjoy, we hope these tried-and-true strategies can help make planning professional learning sessions a little easier.