New Forms of Professional Development

You have all been there… Professional Development days at your school…

Administration usually choose a topic, design the activities and/or bring in a speaker. Most likely,  they will be slides with bullet points…listening…turn to your partners…learning about a new initiative your school will take part in…etc.

As more and more educators are building PLNs (Personal Learning Networks) and taking their Professional Development into their own hands, they realize that their in house, school based PD needs to take on new forms as well.

The EDCAMP style PD is sweeping the USA and the world in order to honor the “experts” among ourselves versus bringing in “outside experts”. Conferences, like educon, edJEWcon or Innovate steer aware from the sage on stage lectures towards conversation style sessions. They aim to move from an exclusive “you physically have to be there” to inclusive virtual connections as an integral part of the learning experience. These conferences seek to blur the notion of a PD event as one moment in time and space to becoming the hub for growing one’s learning network and conversations for “just in time” learning beyond “just in case” tools or skills.

There has also been a wave of new styles of presentations beyond the traditional style lecture typically supported by bullet heavy PowerPoint sides. Take a look at TED style presentations or Pecha Kucha types (see Chris Lehmann‘s example at Ignite Philly above)  to spicen up presentations.

At a recent Professional Development day at our school, a “Hatzatah Presentation”style contest was held, open to our faculty. “Hatzatah”= Ignition in Hebrew,  is our Jewish Day School’s adaptation of  Pecha Kucha and Ignite. Each presenter had 5 minutes to share their idea, broken down into 20 slides which automatically advanced every 15 seconds. The winning prize was an iPad.


We gave them a wide open topic of  “How has/have iPad(s) impacted your teaching practice?” and shared with them a checklist outlining Presentation Logistics, Content, Presentation and Resources.


We asked three judges to take a look at the recorded Hatzatah presentations and choose a winneri. Mike Fisher from Digigogy, Lisa Johnson from TechChef4U and Richard Byrne from FreeTechnology4Teachers & iPad Apps for School, graciously agreed to be our judges.

Each of our “contestants” shared with me, that the process of creating these types of presentations (condensed to five minutes) have been an incredible source of learning for them.

In the spirit of sharing, allowing others to learn form our process, maybe even inspire the possibility of a new form of professional development at your school, here are the filmed Hatzatah presentations. What are some new forms of Professional Development you are  experiencing or experimenting at your school?

Karin Hallett (Liquid Literacy Blog)

Stephanie Teitelbaum (Teach Blog & Tweet )

Shana Gutterman (ShoshyArt Pinterest Board)

Seth Carpenter


Shelly Zavon (Teacher-Twenty-One)