Know Your Audience

As you plan your professional development (PD) session, consider who your audience is and any special needs specific to the group or any of the individual participants. For example:

  • What national, state, and/or district standards apply and how does your session help demonstrate mastery of those standards?
  • How large will the audience be?
  • What ages or grades do participants work with?
  • What subjects do the participants teach?
  • Do any of the participants work with ELL or special education students?
  • Do any of the participants have special needs, such as dietary restrictions or physical limitations?

Set Goals

Set goals for the PD session using the SMART goal setting model. Doing this first will help the program planning and evaluation process. In creating your SMART goals, you should also include affective adjectives that may be harder to measure, but can still inform your planning. For example, Workshop: Teaching with Documents; Goal of workshop: each participant feels prepared and will try one new technique using documents with their students.

  • Specific - be specific as you set your goal. What do you want to accomplish in the PD session?
  • Measurable - Set measurable goals so that you will know if you have achieved them.
  • Achievable - Set realistic goals you can accomplish during your PD session.
  • Relevant - Ensure that your topic is relevant to your audience and that you stay focused on the topic and what you plan to accomplish in your PD session.
  • Timely and Trackable - Set goals that can be accomplished in the time available.

Choose Your Focus

Depending on your interests and expertise, you might choose to present a workshop about a specific topic, demonstrate a methodology, or a combination of both.

Choose Your Presentation Style

If your PD session is longer than 20-30 minutes, it should definitely be varied so that you can help participants access the information in different ways. Here are some different session styles to consider. Note: You do not need to include every style in your presentation.

  • Hands-On Activity - a good option to help teachers envision what the material might look like from the students’ perspective. This style is especially useful when modeling new ways of engaging with primary sources through “learning by doing.”
  • Breakout Session/ Discussion Group - a good option to maximize the expertise of the educators in the room and promote collaboration. Providing a firm structure or set of instructions for the breakout groups to follow will make it easier for the groups to share what they’ve discussed or developed afterwards.
  • Think-Pair-Share - a good option to encourage individuals to think deeply and reflect on a complex or challenging issue. The pairing after individual reflection allows for teachers to share new and riskier ideas in a non-threatening environment.
  • Inquiry/Q&A - a good option to facilitate input from the full group and to discover new ways to explore the topic. This session type can also ensure that participants have a voice and can contribute to the direction of the program.
  • Lecture - a good option to present rich content through a one-way delivery method. This session type can be helpful in sharing details for an application process or highlighting past research or standards that the materials meet.

Pace Your Time

Prepare your PD session with consideration of any time constraints you will have:

  • Be realistic about how much material can be covered in the time frame available
  • Determine how much time will be needed for hands-on activities, breakout sessions, or group discussions
  • Be prepared with examples to encourage audience participation
  • Build in time for participants to explore on their own or to reflect on the experience
  • Include enough time for participants to fill out evaluation forms in order to get feedback on their experience
  • Include time for breaks, snacks, or meals (if applicable)
  • Create a “presenter-only” version of the agenda that notes the intended times for each section to start and end. You can reference this document throughout your session and make adjustments to upcoming portions if earlier ones run longer or shorter than intended.

Plan Ahead

Preparing for your PD session ahead of time will help to increase your confidence in the material you are presenting and can help you remain flexible during your session.

Prepare materials for distribution ahead of time:

Have technology work for you:

Arrive at your session early to check that equipment is working (laptop projector, speakers, microphones, video conferencing, etc.)

  • Provide social media handles/hashtags for sessions you have created or identified to support your session
  • Create clear visuals. There are several websites that give examples of good PowerPoint or Prezi presentations, including:

Coordinate with others:

  • If you have a co-presenter, make sure you have reviewed each other's presentations
  • If you are presenting on a panel, be sure to discuss room set up, break schedule, overlapping topics, etc. prior to the session
  • Provide directions and contact information to outside experts you may be inviting in person or via video conferencing/Skype

Present with confidence:

  • Bring a hard-copy of your agenda and handouts for note taking
  • Draft a presentation outline and try to anticipate the questions participants may have, along with your answers to those questions
  • Bring a watch, clock, or cell phone to track the time
  • Practice your presentation (including your introduction, instructions, activities, etc.)
  • Review the names and details of the people registered for your session (if available ahead of time)

Connect to Standards

One of the most important components of PD workshops is the connection to national, state, and district standards, and other frameworks such as Common Core and the C3 Framework. A strong PD program will not only meet these standards and frameworks, but will ensure that they are clearly identified in the session proposal as well as during the workshop itself.

Helpful Articles and Links about Historical Thinking Skills:

Evaluate the Workshop

An evaluation of the PD workshop should occur at the end of the program - either on-site or online. It is helpful to perform a self-evaluation for your own benefit, in addition to receiving participant evaluations.

Assessing the PD Workshop: The George Washington Teacher Institute Evaluation

If you are fulfilling your George Washington Teacher Institute (GWTI) Professional Development requirement, please ask participants to fill out and submit this form to you either on paper or using our google form. The participants’ responses will be anonymous and combined with others participating in similar workshops across the country. Your participation is greatly appreciated.

Assessing the PD Workshop: The Participants’ Evaluation

The questions on the participant evaluation should measure the success of the SMART goals [Internal link to “Set Goals” section over SMART goals] you created for the session, inquire about the usefulness of materials and resources presented, and assess the pedagogical methods presented. Think about the questions that you, as the presenter, would want feedback on in order to improve your PD skills and ability to communicate information. Your own questions can be added to a school or district created evaluation.

Sample Evaluation Questions (remember to always define your scale if using one):

  • Was the presenter knowledgeable? (Scale 1 to 5, with 1 being not knowledgeable and 5 being very knowledgeable)
  • Were the activities engaging/conducive to discussion? (Scale 1 to 5)
  • Was the content engaging? (Scale 1 to 5)
  • Will you use resources on George Washington and Mount Vernon in the classroom? (Scale 1 to 5)
  • Would you recommend this session to colleagues? (Scale 1 to 5)
  • Did you make new connections with colleagues? (Yes/No)
  • Will you be able to apply the material from today into your classroom? (Yes/No)
  • What did you like the best about the workshop? Why?
  • What did you like the least about the workshop? Why?
  • What would you describe as the most important take-away from this session for you as an educator?
  • How will you use the handouts and materials provided?
  • Did you leave prepared and ready to try one or more new techniques for teaching with primary or secondary sources?

Reflecting on the PD Workshop: Self-Evaluation for the Presenter

The self-evaluation should focus on the intended goals and learning objectives of the workshop, the effectiveness of the presentation, and the practice of PD. Think about the following questions when writing your self-evaluation:

  • What aspects of the session worked well? Why?
  • What aspects of the session did not work well? Why?
  • Did the participants engage with the content and/or activities?
  • Did the participants actively listen and engage?
  • Did I allow the right amount of time for each section?
  • Was there time for discussion and networking among the participants?
  • What would I change or modify, if anything, when planning a future workshop?
  • When and where can I offer another PD workshop?

Further Resources:
Does It Make a Difference? Evaluating Professional Development
Guide to evaluating PD from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Sample Participant Evaluation Form
Sample Participant Evaluation Form

Write a Proposal

Many opportunities for PD workshops require the submission of a proposal. Consider these guidelines and suggestions when planning and drafting a PD workshop proposal.

Step 1: Review Proposal Guidelines

When writing a PD workshop proposal, be aware of the guidelines and requirements of the hosting organization.

Consider these questions when planning your proposal:

  • When is the application deadline?
  • What are the required application materials?
  • What is the format of the proposal?
  • Does the workshop or program have a theme or criteria that should be considered in the proposal?
  • What is the submittal process?

Step 2: Plan the PD Session

The next step in the proposal process is planning. It is important to outline your ideas and understand your audience to present a meaningful PD workshop. The following links provide examples of PD workshop proposals and additional tips for writing a proposal:

Consider these questions when planning your PD session:

  • If you have attended a PD workshop before, what was successful and what did you like about it? How could you model that successful session?
  • What aspects of the workshop were not as successful and why? How can you avoid these aspects?
  • Who is your audience?
    • What ages or grade levels do they teach?
    • What subjects do they teach?

Step 3: Concept

A good proposal will outline the purpose and goals of the session, and be clear about what will be presented. Think about whether you want the participants to share ideas, engage with primary and secondary sources, participate in a hands-on activity, or actively participate in a discussion.

  • State the goals of the workshop. What do you want to accomplish with the session?
  • Choose your focus. What historical theme or topic do you want to focus on? You could choose to present on a methodology such as “Teaching with Objects,” or a topic such as “Slavery in Washington’s World.”
  • Choose your presentation style. What kind of PD session will best fit your goals? Clearly defining your workshop goals and knowing your audience helps to narrow down the best style for your session. Some proposals may ask you to choose a specific session style. Here are a few examples:
    • Hands-On Activity- involves participation and active engagement through the idea of “learning by doing”
    • Breakout Session/ Discussion Group - promotes collaboration and sharing of ideas, as well as maximizes the expertise in the room
    • Think-Pair-Share- promotes individual thinking and collaboration through individual reflection and sharing with a neighbor
    • Inquiry/Q&A- uses questions to discover new ways to explore the topic at hand
    • Lecture- delivers rich content through a one-way delivery method and is often paired with a Q&A at the conclusion
  • Think about why you attend PD workshops and what you find useful. Why would teachers want to attend your session? Think about specific skills and/or content you want participants to leave with. Will teachers learn new pedagogical techniques, increase their knowledge, etc?
  • Will you have any supplementary materials, handouts, or online resources?
  • Are there any takeaways for the participants?

Step 4: Revisions and Review

Submitting a well thought-out and professional proposal can boost the odds of it being chosen by the selection committee.

Be sure to answer the following questions as you review the proposal:

  • Are the grammar, punctuation, and spelling correct?
  • Does the proposal flow nicely and have transitions?
  • Does the proposal have a clear content area?
  • Does the proposal have well-defined goals?
  • Is the title engaging? (which would you prefer to attend: “Teaching with Objects: George Washington’s Punch Bowl” or “Teaching With Punch! Putting Objects Back in the Classroom”?)
  • If possible, have someone unfamiliar with your proposal topic read and edit it for content and clarity.
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