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7 Tips to Create Effective Teacher Workshops

Interpretive Development Program (IDP)

Updated Curriculum-based Education

Overview

  • Does your park offer teacher workshops?
  • Are they offered in the Summer? Are they multi-day or overnight?
  • Do you restrict the number of participants?
  • Is there a registration cost?
  • What partners do you include to help with planning and implementation?
  • Do attendees receive Continuing Education Credits?

There are hundreds of professional development opportunities offered by national parks that come in many forms from teacher workshops, seminars, and institutes. Workshops can range from a few hours to a week-long experience. After participating in a For Educators, By Educators webinar on Creating Effective Teacher Workshops, a list of 7 Tips were generated to help you begin collaborating with your team and partners to develop developmental opportunities for teachers.

7 Tips to Create Effective Teacher Workshops

If you are currently offering workshops to teachers or are new to this work, consider the following:

1. Ensure relevancy and alignment with state standards.
  • Keep it aligned to state standards and maintain relevancy – what’s the hook? Can you or your team take teachers to a “special” place in the park, give them access to experts, or take them deep inside the resource?
  • Include time to facilitate networking between teachers.
  • Design activities to honor teacher knowledge and skills.
2. Provide a comfortable and brave space to share.
  • Give teachers time to express their needs, goals, and what they want to gain from the workshop.
  • Include manipulative (fidgets and stress toys) especially if your teachers are new to the space or activity.
  • Find time for teachers to explore and connect with the resource on their own.
3. Provide supplies and include suggested items to bring.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Gloves, hats, boots, etc. are obvious items for many parks when considering countering environmental effects of the site, but consider brainstorming a list of the not-so-obvious items that would help teachers better enjoy the experience.
  • Field Study items: Binoculars, Field Guides, Magnifying glasses, etc…
  • Laptops, mobile devices, 3-ring binder(s), current standards, lesson plans, etc…
4. Provide compensation (i.e. stipend) for teachers.
  • Time is valuable with increasing demands; teachers are more likely to fully engage if they are being compensated.
5. Partner with other agencies and park partners.
  • There are many benefits in working with partners – they can help you staff and fund your teacher workshop.
  • Partners can help coordinate logistics (i.e. cost, convenience, housing, group size, etc.).
6. Provide educational materials (guides, books, freebies, door prizes, etc.).
  • Get teachers excited even after they leave the workshop.
  • Offer professional development credit and/or continuing education credit.
7. Provide refreshments AND food.
  • ¬†Get creative and find ways to feed teachers, especially for longer or overnight opportunities.

Additional Resources

Thanks to Michele Bratschun, Katherine Ferguson, Theresa Hall, Michelle Ordway, Katie Phillips, Michael Simpson, Brandi Stewart, Emily Sunblade, and Christie Wilkins for helping to create this resource.

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