Teacher Professional Development better at Starbucks?

Teacher Professional Development better at Starbucks?

by MQuaveLTT with 9847 Comments in February 14, 2017 In Category: Professional Development
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Have you experienced a conversation with a parent who has a two year old nearby? I’m sure we can all agree it is a distracting situation for all involved, except of course, for the two year old. This is what it is like for principals and teachers when participating in professional development on their campus.


In a recent article titled, “A powerful kind of PD for school administrators,” by Erich May, a principal expresses the relationship building factor that can develop when participating in professional development off campus.

We agree with Erich May’s opinion that sometimes it is important for mentoring to take place in a trust- building, collaborative, learning environment. When working with teachers on a school campus, there are always distractions that end up taking priority:

  • The sub has a question
  • A student is upset or acting out
  • A parent shows up and demands a conference
  • A colleague comes in with important information

True instructional leaders support teams in creating a focused environment for professional development on campus.  However, as a caring teacher it is difficult to not be influenced by the immediate need of a student.

Recently we were collaborating with teachers from two sites within the same district. Each day we were with a different grade level working on building conceptual understanding for students in math. The training was taking place at one of the school sites. Everyday that we were in the district, the teachers arriving from a different site were on time and focused. The teachers that were participating at their own site were consistently late and distracted based on the constant interruptions. They would stop by their classroom to make sure their students were on task and end up taking more break time. The teacher in charge of setting up for the upcoming science fair stopped by and had a question that was timely. The substitute couldn’t get the Smart Screen to work.

Building a collaborative, trusting environment takes time and commitment. We are asking teachers to deliver “real world learning” for students. As principals and district leaders, let’s provide that environment for our teachers as well.  All will benefit!

It’s even a great idea to transform the classroom environment into a “real world learning” situation for our students! Kayla Delzer, an Elementary Educator writing for Edutopia, was able to turn her classroom into a coffeehouse atmosphere:

“I remember exactly where I was when I had a watershed moment that changed me as a teacher forever. In fact, it inspired my EdSurge column, Why the 21st-Century Classroom May Remind You of Starbucks. I was working on my TEDx presentation at my local Starbucks and, looking around, I realized that everyone seemed to be happy, engaged in their work, and relaxed. Some people chose the traditional chairs and tables while I opted for a big, comfy chair with my MacBook on my lap. The quiet music, perfect lighting, and overall aesthetics of the coffee shop were favorable for a variety of learners. And if I wanted to switch up my seat during my stay, I was free to do just that. That’s when I decided that our classroom in 2015-2016 was going to look radically different than anything I’d ever done before.”

Read her full article here: Classroom Coffeehouse Atmosphere

Find great ideas on Pinterest for giving your classroom that energetic, collaborative atmosphere.

All of these ideas work for classrooms and teacher professional development areas.

Want to create a collaborative environment where teachers create real world integrated curriculum?  Contact Lets Teach Together