Can you relate to this?


Hey Advocates,

If you’ve ever sat (or napped) in a “professional development workshop” and thought to yourself, “This could have been an email,” you have found your people. Hey Fam!! Welcome! Dinner starts at 5 PM. Now, I am not the host of a famous TV game show, so I don’t have formal survey results to prove this statement. Still, observational data (i.e., my own experiences and statements) tells me that we have sat in at least one PD session that could have and should have been an email. The last time I checked, time was still a very precious commodity. Would you agree with me in saying that we don’t mind sharing our time when there is a guaranteed return on investment? I think we can stack hands on the statement that sitting for hours in professional development, which could have started with some form of “hello” and ended with a nicety that supported me having a great day, is not a great return on my investment of time. 

So, Sholanda, what do we need to bring joy back to professional development? I am thrilled you asked! 

I propose a PD Detox. Let’s clean our systems out of these old, antiquated (Do you like how I threw that PD jargon in there?) ways of presenting information and bring in storytelling, relevance, simulation, engagement, collaboration, and fun. A great bumper sticker for PD is “Scenario-Based PD Me Please.” Okay, that’s a little long for a bumper sticker, but we, as educators, need to get the message out there that we are starved for meaningful and impactful professional development. 

Schools often strive to create spaces for students to thrive and be nurtured, but we must also include staff development in these spaces. Let’s reimagine learning for students and staff.

Okay, Sholanda. You are really hyped about this “Scenario-Based PD.” I’ll bite; tell me more.

Aye!! Let’s go!

Scenario-based PD offers strength in listening. What if you were given real-life scenarios and allowed to work within your Professional Learning Community to help you grasp concepts, eliminate confusion and conflict, and allow you to make mistakes before you set back your work in nurturing students’ academic growth, socio-emotional wellness, and next steps preparedness? You can share collective strategies and ideas and immediately implement what you’ve learned and get feedback on what you need to tweak for the next time you meet with your students.

Wouldn’t you feel more prepared to move the famous “needle” we all hear about in educational spaces?

Scenario-based PD offers a lifeline. Being introduced to useful real-life scenarios and strategies can make a significant difference between educators, especially our new educators, staying or leaving the profession. Scenario-based PD offers growth, hope, and motivation to continue. Having this type of PD allows an educator to be willing to struggle, knowing that learning comes with challenges and that failure is an opportunity to grow. 

Scenario-based PD allows you to connect with colleagues, students, and families. You can make a great first impression, but can you sustain that first impression beyond the “Meet the Teacher” Night? Let’s be real. A slide deck will not be the milk and honey for your school year. I promise. How you build rapport with people will make your year good…or not…but hopefully, good. How do you establish trust and understanding? Did you take a class in your education journey to teach you how to do that? I know I didn’t. You learn that over years of being in the industry if you’re lucky. 

Scenario-based PD moves staff learning from a transactional connection. It becomes about aligning genuine care and consideration with content—you know…humanity and stuff. If you don’t believe me, check out what the professionals say about Scenario-Based learning. Run it back for the Fam…Scenario-based learning involves utilizing interactive situations that present authentic examples followed by a series of question prompts for teachers to consider possible strategies to handle these daily teaching situations (Bardach et al., 2021).

Okay, Sholanda. I hear you. I may be okay with learning more about this “Scenario-Based PD” stuff. What are some ideas you have?

I’ve been waiting for you to say this since sentence #1!! Let’s get to it, Advocates. I asked my cousin, ChatGPT, to jazz up some Scenario-Based learning for us. This is what my cousin served, and the platter is hot, so be careful!

  • Adventure Time Learning: Use a video game to go on an exciting quest filled with challenges and triumphs.
  • Brain Teaser Bonanza: Crack the code to effective teaching by solving a series of brain teasers.
  • Drama Club for Educators: Create a professional development drama and step into different roles, improvise solutions, and receive applause and constructive feedback.
  • Cooking up Creativity: Experiment with new ingredients (i.e., teaching strategies) to whip up innovative lessons. 
  • Escape Room Extravaganza: Work together to unlock the secrets to professional growth and effective teaching.
  • Magic School Bus Ride: Journey through the realm of teaching possibilities, using curiosity and wonder as your fuel. 
  • Superhero Training Academy: We already wear capes, so you might as well put on the proverbial cape and use your superpowers of adaptability, critical thinking, and empathy to conquer teaching challenges on your campus.
  • Reality Show Remix: Go on a friendly competition (“friendly” is the keyword, Fam!) to tackle teaching dilemmas.
  • Storytelling Safari: Explore the wilds of education through engaging narratives. Craft your own tales of teaching success and share them around the campfire of professional development.
  • DIY Workshop Wonderland: Roll up your sleeves and get hands-on with pedagogical art. 

My cousin, ChatGPT, snapped on this list! That beautiful fusion of Scenario-Based learning and technology makes my heart sing. The best way to do anything is to do it and learn from it. Step out and try something different. Sure, you can keep using the traditional professional development route, but don’t be surprised when you get the traditional outcomes. Can you afford those outcomes? When you know better,…you can finish the rest of that statement; I’m already over my word count. As you implement this systemic change, let us know what you learn, Fam. Each one, reach one!

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Written By: Sholanda Smith, Content Creator, Leading Equity Center



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