Content that is meaningful, research-based and relevant are critical components of effective professional development. But there is another factor that makes a difference and is often overlooked: Location. If it is decided that professional development training will begin with a large group session followed later by small group facilitation and classroom implementation, determining where to hold that large group session is going to be held is also extremely important.
After being involved in professional development facilitation and follow up training for over 30 years, I speak from experience on the importance of the initial large group meeting and its location. The location room that you choose to use has an atmosphere of its own and will have a tremendous impact on the presentation before the session even begins. In fact, one of the most important decisions in planning for professional development is the choice of location.
“We always meet in fill ( in the blank)..gym, cafeteria, auditorium, media center, music room…” Most often staff development is held on site. Think about moving it off campus. Off-site meeting spaces offer enormous advantages. An off-site location will reduce distractions and minimize interruptions. Announcements over the PA, messages from the office, parents or students stopping in, trips to the classroom, office or locker room are eliminated. Participants enjoy meeting off-site and are better able to focus on the content.
Check with a local hotel for prices of a conference rooms. Some are very willing to work with schools at reasonable rates. If this option is prohibitively expensive, consider a wide range of options in addition to hotels that may meet your staff development site needs at minimum or no cost:
- Local public library meeting rooms
- Nature centers
- Community colleges
- VFW halls and other community meeting spaces
- Churches and Synagogues
- Local camps
- Environmental learning centers
- Country clubs and golf clubs off season
- Supper clubs and restaurants
Most of the spaces listed will allow participants to be seated at tables to encourage discussion and engagement in a comfortable setting. After all of the hard work involved in planning effective professional development, ensure its success in a learner-friendly environment. Location, location location!
This is part 1 of Creature Comforts for Staff Development