Planning PD Got You Down? 4 Ways Padlet Can Help You Get Your Groove Back

Professional Development

Planning PD Got You Down? 4 Ways Padlet Can Help You Get Your Groove Back

By Hamilton Parks     Jul 21, 2017

Planning PD Got You Down? 4 Ways Padlet Can Help You Get Your Groove Back

This article is part of the guide: What Personalized Learning Looks Like Across the Country: The 2017 Fifty States Project.

Why do weekly faculty meetings have to be the most dreaded part of a teacher’s week? The school day has just ended, there are three different assessments that need to be graded (×30...), and loved ones are heading home, expecting a coherent family member to share a meal with. An hour (or three) of sit-and-get is the last thing teachers need on a weekday afternoon.

As an instructional coach, I learned very quickly that if I wanted teachers at my school as engaged as they expected their students to be, it was my responsibility to mix up the way they received information. The question was how to do it.

I can’t remember how I discovered Padlet, but I know it was after I left the classroom. Although I was sad I wouldn’t be able to use it with my own students, I realized that it could be a beneficial resource for engaging teachers during Professional Development (PD).

For those unfamiliar, Padlet is a free web-based tool that can be used as interactively as one desires. If you’ve never met this online bulletin board, think of it as just that! It can be simply a place to house important documents and resources for learners, or it can be a tool that facilitates assessment and feedback. The program provides varied accessibility for one’s needs. This flexibility makes it perfect for facilitating faculty discussions and learning, while at the same time providing a way to sneakily teach teachers about a tool they can take back to their classroom and use with students.

Staff engagement 2.0

One of my first Padlet experiences came while I was leading classroom teachers in a meaningful discussion about spelling instruction. I knew that with 26 classroom teachers, there was no easy way to gather all of their ideas about the topic, much less was there going to be a way to house all of their comments in a place where they could learn from each other after leaving the session...or was there?

Padlet provides the perfect avenue for this. I linked my emaze presentation to the Padlet I created, and had teachers post what they learned about spelling instruction from a presentation I gave. Teachers were also able to share best practices from their own spelling instruction. Not only did this facilitate professional development, but it fostered collaboration and vertical discussion across all grades within the school.

Teachers provided feedback about takeaways from the Spelling PD here.

Keeping everyone in the loop

Another time when Padlet proved itself highly useful was when our faculty was revising its mission and vision. As a leadership team, my principal, administrative assistant, program director, and I knew we wanted to provide the entire team of grade level chairs with documents regarding our current mission, vision, and goals. We especially wanted them to be able to have them at their fingertips for close analysis and critical assessment. A PowerPoint of GoogleSlides presentation would be great, but would they be able to take the time to look at the artifacts and meaningfully share their thoughts and ideas in real time and in their own words? Probably not.

I knew that with the capabilities of Padlet, not only would staff have access to anything shared, but they would be able to post their own comments and other important artifacts that would benefit the entire faculty council. This was a fantastic way to allow them the ability to pose questions, allow time to talk in small groups, and share information for everyone to look at in real time, as the ideas were flowing.

Building community: Padlet + teacher selfies

One of our more fun uses of Padlet was when I sent the staff on a scavenger hunt through the building. This wasn’t just any scavenger hunt, though—it was the #SSSS, or STEAM Storage closet Selfie Scavenger hunt. In order for teachers to get the heralded PD points for this event, they had to team up with their grade-level and visit the storage closets throughout the building. As a school of engineering, we had a plethora of materials that could be used for project-based learning, building, and creating.

Instead of preaching about how we needed to remain vigilant in our efforts to create hands-on activities that fostered inquiry and focused on engineering principles, I had teachers visit these storage closets and take team selfies, captioning how they were going to incorporate these finds in their instruction. The teachers posted on the Padlet, which not only let me see that they were actively participating in the activity, but I was also able to see how they planned on using the finds they discovered on their visit.

To infinity and beyond

Once I had become a Padlet pro, I knew I could think bigger. Our district has a yearly technology conference that draws about 1,200 educators from around our region. Last year, I set out to help administrators experience benefits of social media in communicating school mission and vision. There was no way I was planning on sharing a presentation with a cold set of slides where I talk at them for an hour so I turned once again to Padlet.

I was so excited at the amount of engagement I had with my group of over 30 administrators who all learned and shared together. This Padlet included links to articles about hashtags and Twitter, a YouTube video of Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon, and links to both a GoogleForm and GoogleDoc. In the end, I was able to assess just how much learning had taken place when the our Padlet-created professional learning community all displayed their school hashtags.

As instructional leaders, we are constantly striving to motivate teachers to think outside-of-the-box with their lessons, with the goal of engaging students in more indelible learning. We owe it to our teachers to present professional development and valuable information to them in the same way. Padlet is a versatile tool that can serve staff in way participatory that traditional slide type programs don’t offer, plus its use serves as the perfect model that teachers can take back to their classrooms and put into action with their students. If you haven’t experienced the joys of Padlet, let the slide-type programs from the past take a rest. This tool is great for communicating with and engaging teachers, plus it has the added benefit as a takeaway that they can return to their classrooms with to facilitate meaningful student learning.

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