The power of non-virtual workshops

The power of non-virtual workshops

As I watched Brian Gravel present to a group of about 20 teachers from Oyster River Middle School in Durham, NH today, it occurred to me that person-to-person, hands-on workshops are becoming more rare, and it’s too bad as there really is an indescribable energy to professional development that’s interactive, touchable… and just real!

iCreate ran its standard 2-hour hands-on SAM Animation workshop during Oyster River’s in-service day, and, I humbly admit, it was another hit. On all feedback forms, the answer to “Upon completion of the workshop, what was the most helpful aspect?” was either (1) hands-on or (2) workshop facilitators, or, most often, (3) both!! And without saying more, this is proof alone that while virtual trainings and workshops and webinars and online courses and… you name it… may be the professional development trend, the value of personal, on-site professional development is beyond what any trend is worth.

Why? It’s simple. Ever tried to make a professional connection over email, but there wasn’t any true value to that email chain until after you actually met that person? Or, ever tell yourself you will work-out on your own, but it’s really the scheduled exercise class, group, sports teams, or trainer that gets you to keep your promise? That’s the power that designated time with other real people in life has on us. We’re human — we are motivated by human interaction.

As teachers, there are 101-million things on your plates, so setting time aside to teach yourself a new tool on your own gets pushed down on the to-do list. And what if you did take the time, and run into questions? Sometimes you don’t want to go to an online forum or live chat — you want a person, right there, with facial expressions, to answer your question! And what if you want to bounce some ideas off another teacher, but don’t want to tweet it for the world to see? Yes, intimate, hands-on teacher professional development is valuable, and while there’s a time and place for all-things-virtual, we need to make sure we keep the time and place for all things in-person.

Written by Melissa.

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