For the last 3 years at ISB, we have had open PD sessions 3 days a week, every week of the school year, some sessions more successful than others. We’ve tried a variety of different formats from topic-specific sessions (SmartBoard, Podcasts, RSS, etc), to general “thought-provoking” conversation and videos in our Wired Wednesday sessions, to simple walk-in personal tech support.
We are so happy to see just how many of our very busy teachers are interested in our variety of tech offerings, but we also know we can continue to improve our repertoire of support. So, every few months, in an effort to serve our teachers better, we reflect on which sessions are most popular and which might need to change, but we always end up offering something on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, every week.
As I was describing these different formats during the keynote, I happened to mention (partly in jest) that perhaps they would be even more successful if they weren’t offered on such a frequent basis. Maybe if there were fewer offerings, we’d have even more teachers attend because then, the sessions that we do offer would be perceived as more “special” and “worth” attending….
It just so happens that the very same week was also our last week of after-school PD support, which was clearly stated in Jeff’s regular e-mail. Interestingly, that week we had a larger group of teachers vying for our attention than we had had all year. Now, that could be due to the very busy end of the year stress, or maybe, it could be because it was clear that these were the very last times for our after school tech support.
I also happen to be reading The Paradox of Choice, in which the author, Barry Schwartz, claims (and I’m paraphrasing and simplifying here) that the more choices we have, the less likely and able we are to make a decision.
So, now I’m wondering: could it be, that by offering more PD opportunities, we are actually making it harder for our teachers to decide to attend?
What do you think? Should we offer sessions once a month? Once a fortnight? Rotate sessions so that we’re not doing the same three format every week? Offer certain sessions once a month and others once a week?