I have attended the TCEA conference in Austin the past five years. I have heard many speakers and teachers and presented a couple sessions myself. I have picked up many pens, stress balls, stickers, keychains, notepads, bags, and doo-dads from the exhibit hall. I take all of my digital notes, random pieces of paper and handouts, and hope to apply something when I am jolted back to reality on Monday. It’s as if we need a vacation to absorb and reflect on all of the experiences, conversations, and information we have been exposed to at TCEA.

My suggestion: take one new thing that you learned and apply it. Just one. Once you have that one thing down, try another thing that you have learned.

For me, I want to make professional development sessions that I lead more interactive and meaningful. I had the pleasure of attending Steve Dembo’s session about professional development called “Fear of the Sitting Dead.” It was at 5 p.m. on Wednesday and the large room was over half full. It makes you aware that this is a problem plaguing learning institutions and we were collectively at this session to figure out how to solve this problem. You mean, I’m not the only one that has experienced some less than stellar professional development sessions?

In that session, he said,“PD should not be done to you, it should have an actionable purpose.” From that session, I made a short list of a few interactive ideas I would like to attempt to add to my PD sessions in the future.

Take a Walk

Steve mentioned how walking increases the activity of your brain. He had us all stand-up, leave the room, and take two laps around the upstairs area on the third floor of the convention center. He asked us to talk to people we didn’t already know. He gave us a topic: “Children are smarter because of the Internet.” Everyone discussed this while walking. Once we were all back in the room, Steve asked people to share with the group about their conversations. (On another note, we ask students to discuss things with their neighbor all the time. What if we had them walk around the room and discuss the topic with their neighbor?)

Snowball Fight

Everyone has a piece of paper. They write something on there relating to a topic you have provided. They roll the paper into a ball and they throw it at others in the room. Then, someone opens up your paper and they add something or they respond. They can ball up the paper again and you can repeat the process however many times you want. We did not demonstrate this suggestion. (We’re at a tech conference – no one had any paper.)

One Final Thing

Steve suggested Tech-Mex Tuesdays, an informal professional development session after school. Two rules: You must stay for 15 minutes and there MUST be chips and salsa. Participants can stay longer if they want to learn more.

For more of Steve’s ideas, click here.

Haley Wallace is a former K-12 technology teacher in Texas and Oklahoma. She currently teaches adult learning classes at Tulsa Technology Center. Haley enjoys using Twitter to learn and connect with other educators.