Effectively Engaging Teachers - 5 Strategies For Successful Staff Deve
Aug 14, 2010 Teacher Training 2177 Views
I really enjoy working with teachers. They are creative, and most teachers absolutely love to learn. However, teachers can be a tough crowd to please, especially if you are a trainer. You know all those behaviors students engage in that drive teachers crazy? Using electronic devices in class? Talking during instruction? Making rude comments about the instructor? Yes, these are just a few of the behaviors that the majority of teachers would find intolerable in their students. Yet teachers often display these same behaviors during staff development sessions. Are teachers just a rude bunch? No, that's not the issue. The reality is teachers hold extremely high expectations for their staff developers, and if they believe their time is being wasted, these rude behaviors emerge. This is especially true if teachers have been forced to attend a training in which they have little interest. If you do find yourself working with teachers, these 5 strategies can help you have a successful experience.
1. Be confident in the content you are sharing with teachers. Confidence comes from understanding the material deeply, being prepared, and anticipating questions and potential misunderstandings. Though the majority of teachers are hoping for your success as a trainer, some are just waiting for you to falter. If you can present your material with authority and conviction, teachers respond positively.
2. Be enthusiastic about what you are sharing with teachers. The passion you hold for the content must shine through during each stage of the training. Nothing is more contagious than watching someone brim with excitement over strategies that positively impact students. If you find yourself in a situation where you are training teachers on something you are not enthusiastic about (such as personnel procedures or testing), infuse a lot of humor. Teachers love to laugh, and your honesty with them will go far.
3. Maintain a high level of energy throughout the training session. Visible confidence and enthusiasm for your subject matter will encourage appropriate levels of energy throughout the workshop. As you plan your session, look for opportunities to examine the flow of the day. Have you allowed for sufficient time for participants to interact with the material? Are teachers engaged in ways other than listening? Does your session ebb and flow in a natural rhythm in which the participants receive information and interact with each other. It is much easier for you, as the presenter, to maintain dynamic levels of energy if you schedule periods in which teachers are actively involved in the material.
4. Infuse your training with anecdotes from your own experience. Most staff developers have experience in the classroom or other educational settings, thus have many, many situations from which to draw. People love to hear stories. Perhaps it is the nature of a story with its beginning, middle, and end that so fascinates listeners. Whatever the reason, stories relating to what you are presenting to teachers is not only a way to illustrate key points in your presentation, but it will also demonstrate your experience. Teachers respond well to presenters who have served in the trenches.
5. Connect with teachers on a personal level. Insist they wear name tags and address them individually. Something very powerful occurs when one's name is used. The participants no longer are strangers, and you instantly develop rapport. Another way to connect with teachers is to walk the room. Standing at the front of the room talking for long periods of time will not endear you to your audience. Use those times when teachers are actively engaged in exploring the content of your presentation to roam, ask questions, check for understanding, and talk with individuals. You'll be amazed how quickly you gain the trust and respect of teachers by engaging with them in this manner.
Teachers can be a challenging audience to engage. However, with these key strategies, you too can enjoy working with a highly creative, committed, and caring group of professionals.