PD post-mortem: 5 things I wish I had done differently

This morning I led a session called “Tech Tips and Tricks” as part of our school’s Second-Semester PD day. It is a day where faculty from all three divisions come together for peer led concurrent sessions in the morning and a plenary session in the afternoon. There are about 110 of us altogether, and there were about 10 sessions running during each of the scheduled time slots. There were lots of good sessions to choose from, so my group of 14 was one of the bigger sessions.

I have co-led PD sessions in the past, but this was my first time flying solo. I chose my title just because it is catchy, and I was hoping to capture the spirit of the sessions I attended at the FETC in January, where I was bombarded with a parade of amazing ideas, websites, apps and techniques. It is sort of like drinking from a fire hose, but it is also energizing. I organized a few websites and apps using a page in padlet.com (formerly wallwisher.com), which you can see here (the formatting has changed a bit but it is scrollable).

Although the session went well and people seemed to like it, I find myself wishing I had done a few things differently:

I wish I had asked people to sign in.

It sounds obvious, I know, but if I knew exactly who was in my session, I could send them a thank you email, ask for feedback, ask for follow up questions and fill in some gaps. I can still probably do this by asking for help from other people I know were there, but there were some people from the development office, for example, that most teachers don’t know. Also, because our school is on two separate campuses, I still don’t know all the names of the teachers in other divisions. I will still track everyone down, but it will be time consuming and a little embarrassing.

I wish I had taken video of myself.

If I had some video, I could pick up on areas for improvement in my presentation. Since I hope to offer more PD sessions in the future, I could learn a lot from a video of my presentation.

I wish I had taken the time to get in-session feedback.

One of my mantras is that the smartest person in the room is… THE ROOM. In keeping with that, I wish I had left off one of my little tech tricks and asked everyone to post on the padlet.com. I wanted to ask them which of my “tricks” they could actually imagine using and how they could use it. I had a padlet.com page set up, but I decided not to do it because we were running out of time. I regret that decision because, if nothing else, it would have allowed folks in my session to see the power of class generated content. That realization would be just as valuable or powerful as a useful new trick or tool.

I wish I had focused my presentation more.

Teachers like to over prepare, and I definitely had more material on my padlet.com page than I could get through in the allotted hour. I was hoping that I could tailor my presentation on the fly based on who showed up, so I had a wide variety of material that would potentially appeal to teachers in all three divisions. I organized my items on my padlet in three different categories, but I could have easily just stuck with one category. The Presentation and Assessment category went really well and we had great discussions, but when I switched to the Collaboration category, I wasn’t able to give it as much time as I wanted. As a result one of my favorite items – using Twitter – got short shrift. I didn’t even get to the Efficiency category. Is that ironic?

I wish I hadn’t fallen for a gimmick.

One of the other presenters was leading a workshop on google apps and asked me if I would do a google+ hangout with him during our concurrent sessions. I jumped at the chance, thinking it would be super cool. Well, doing a hangout effectively would have required a lot more planning and collaboration than we actually did. As it was, I had to stop what I was doing to join the hangout, and it really disrupted the flow of my own presentation. In the end, I doubt my participants saw the value of a google+ hangout. I would have conveyed more value to them if I had just said, “It’s like Skype, but you can have up to 10 participants.”

 

It really was a pretty good workshop and I got good feedback, but of course, I am striving to make it better. I would love to hear feedback from anyone with more (or different) PD experience!