Tips To Expand Your Audience For K-12 Professional Development
Today we are going to discuss how to expand the pool of individuals who would benefit from taking your professional development course. There are many different content areas in K-12, and some have a much smaller pool of individuals than others. With a few simple changes, you can expand that group of individuals and increase the enrollment in your course.
Before we get to those tips, be sure that you have read and are familiar with the strategies in these two posts: Building an Audience for Your K-12 Professional Development Class and Ways to Promote Your Class. These posts address ways to increase enrollment and visibility of your courses.
Also note that I am using the term “content area” to broadly refer to all topics in the K-12 education system.
Let’s get started discussing three different but similar strategies.
- Look at the scope of your course.
Sometimes the scope of the course created is far too narrow. In other words, the topics selected for your class only apply to a small number of individuals. So, how do you increase the scope of your class? Look at aspects of your course that apply to all teachers and expand your course into those areas. Maybe there are homeroom/study-hall teachers, special education teachers, substitute teachers, paraprofessionals, or librarians who could use a basic review of the content, so they are equipped to guide students in finding the answers.
- Think more broadly.
Look at the standards and legislation for your content area from the perspective of a larger area. Statewide or nationwide, are there differences in standards that teachers need to know? Can your class be developed to include those standards? Maybe your class already meets the standards that another state or district is just adopting. There may be teachers, schools, or districts that need the content but do not have someone who is qualified to teach it. This is especially important if the legislation is new.
- Look for career changers.
Nationwide there are a high number of teachers who are getting burned out and considering changing careers. Instead of them leaving the teaching profession altogether are you able to develop a series of classes that would entice them to change careers or content areas within your school or district? You may need to do a little research to ensure your course or series of courses meets all requirements, but it might be a worthwhile endeavor.
I haven’t done any research on this, so this is just a thought but, I wonder if creating teachers who are crossed-trained in several areas of teaching might help avoid burnout. Would creating a career path where teachers can move back and forth within a school or district help avoid the burnout of doing the same thing year after year? Here is an example of what I mean by this, there are two teachers, one is a special education teacher who enjoys math, and one is a math teacher who enjoys seeing their students’ overcome challenges. If those two teachers were cross trained, they could share curriculum and switch teaching roles every few years to experience a bit of change and some additional challenges. I am sure this is a simplistic view of the problem and that there are all sorts of nuances that I am unaware of, but I would definitely be interested in your comments on this thought. Would you be interested in a program of this sort?
Most of the tips I can share regarding how to expand the audience for your class involve thinking about your course in a broad sense. You already know that most professional development is meant to allow teachers to learn about timely & relevant topics. I would also argue that professional development classes are intended to be a “teachers’ help desk” where they can find solutions and ideas. So, with that thought in mind, how can you design your class to be helpful to the greatest number of teachers? That is really what this post boils down to.
About the Author
Connie Jadrny, is a senior marketing coordinator for NDSU Distance and Continuing Education, a program of the Office of Teaching and Learning.
In more than 17 years at NDSU, Jadrny has learned a lot about the professional development needs of K-12 teachers.
In this series of posts, she intends to pass along bits of wisdom from the professional development industry.
Let’s learn together!