Creating a Professional Development Space

Wouldn’t it be nice if all schools had a designated space for teachers to gather together on a regular basis to learn and share ideas?  Where they could relax a bit, enjoy a cup of coffee, and consider how to improve their instruction?  I thought so too.  That’s why I really wanted to create a professional development space for teachers this year.

When I was in the classroom, creating an engaging and beautiful learning space was one of my favorite things to do.  I wanted it to be a place where students looked forward to coming to everyday and felt inspired to learn.  I used this same thinking when I set out to create our school’s professional development space. I know the current school year is coming to a close, but if you are able to create a professional development space for the next school year, here are some ideas to consider.

Don’t Go Crazy With Colors

Although it’s tempting to think the more colorful the better, it’s really not.  Too many loud colors can be distracting.  Keep it simple with one muted color on the walls and add a pop of color with borders or accent boards.

Plants and Lighting

I have one big plant in a bright green pot that sits by my desk and helps freshen the air.    I’ve also added different lighting around the room to create a more inviting space.

Work and Teaching Spaces

I chose round tables for workspace so teachers could easily collaborate and share ideas.  I added baskets on top with pens, highlighters, and sticky notes for teachers to use.

For teaching space, I have a small round table that I dressed up a bit with some fun fabric that holds my projector.  Having chart paper and markers on hand for recording agenda’s or impromptu notes from discussions is also important.

Materials Organization

It’s important to have a space to store any handouts and/or other materials you may need to support your professional development meetings.  For me, a few plastic bins from Target and a labeler make quick work of this organizational task!

 Teacher Ownership

Just as you would want students to feel ownership of their classroom, I wanted teachers to feel connected to our professional development space.  I made sure that teacher faces were seen in the room in different ways.

I made magnet name cards for each of the teachers that they use for the “check-in” questions we have in place at the start of each PD session

My colleague and I also thought it would be a great idea for teachers to make “A Bit About Me” cards. We used these for an opening activity for one of our PD sessions and then displayed them throughout the year. These gave teachers a way to learn something about others they may not have known before

Here are the question we used:

  • What is one of your passions?
  • What is a quirk of yours no one knows about?
  • What is your favorite book?

What Have We Been Working On?

It’s important that the work and learning of teachers is celebrated and displayed throughout the room.

A documentation panel I made to tell the story of our work connected to guided reading

Our work plan goal for the year

Supporting targets for the work plan goal

Continuum of reading proficiency levels

Displayed read-alouds to support student engagement. These along with the professional learning books to the left are all available for check-out

Our staff habits connected to the text, "Mindset" (seen below)

Café!

One of the best parts of our PD room is the mini coffee bar I set up.  We have professional development at the end of the day and teachers are often pretty drained.  It really helps to have a pot of fresh coffee and a few snacks waiting for them.  I also have a mini-fridge for storing small cans of soda and Emergen-C packs for those teachers who need a bit of a pick-up, but would rather not have caffeine.  Teachers have nicknamed this space “Houser’s Cafe.”

Add Some Humor!

Our science teacher made this for me and I just love it.  It is a good reminder of why we all come together every week!

And Don’t Forget…

A space for yourself.  Some instructional coaches have offices outside of their professional development space or they may not have an office at all!  If you are able to create an organized and comfortable workspace for yourself, definitely do!  I chose to put mine by the window for a little natural light and I only furnish it with what is really essential.  The last thing you want to do when you have a chance to sit down and think, is deal with a bunch of clutter!

A little extra inspiration from Coach John Wooden

There aren’t a ton of ideas out there for how to create a professional development space for teachers, so if you have any additional thinking to contribute, please let us know!

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to “Creating a Professional Development Space”

  1. sue October 31, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    this is incredible–a teacher work room gone virile—yes!!!

  2. Neene August 27, 2014 at 8:34 pm #

    Love your post. Working on creating a professional development space for our staff this summer. Trying to balance pretty and comfy with useful and practical. Hope your space continues to be so well received.

  3. Hilary June 4, 2015 at 7:36 am #

    Could you tell me what book(s) you used with your faculty when you were working on guided reading in upper grades? Thank you!

    • Kristin Houser June 8, 2015 at 11:07 am #

      Hi Hilary!
      We pulled excerpts from a variety of different resources…Fountas and Pinnel Guided Reading, and The Next Step in Guided Reading being the primary ones.
      Kristin :)

  4. Stephanie February 23, 2017 at 6:57 pm #

    Love these ideas….Can you give me some examples of your “check-in” questions. I want to try this!

    • Kristin Houser March 9, 2017 at 1:45 pm #

      Hi Stephanie! I usually do simple but fun “prompt” questions…favorite book, favorite movie, juicy fact that no one knows about you…Anything works, really! Kristin

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