April 25, 2022

7 Tips for Successful Virtual Childcare Professional Development

By Jessica Allison, Director of Education and Training

Over the past two years, we’ve all worked hard to adapt in-person sessions into virtual events. Last month, Early Learning Academies hosted a virtual professional development (PD) session for 9 of our centers based in Colorado. This session was a great a success, and we walked away with the following takeaways that will be helpful for anyone planning virtual PD for Center Directors or early childhood educators in the future.

Before the Session:

  • Do some technology prep beforehand. Center Directors are often so busy with everyday business of a center that it can be hard for them to take the time to prep for a virtual call. Since these calls are dependent on everyone having working technology, have your attendees set aside some time a day or two before the session to ensure sound, video, etc. is working correctly.
  • Spend some time with attendees. If possible, get to know the attendees before the session. A visit to the centers in person could allow for a better understanding of each center’s needs. This facetime can also make folks more comfortable speaking/interacting on the session.

During the Session:

  • Ask specific questions. Video conference calls can be notoriously quiet, so we wanted to avoid this during our session. Asking direct questions and giving folks the time and space to think of answers made for great engagement and discussion.
  • Keep sessions short. This was one of the biggest takeaways for us. Long sessions tend to leave people with screen fatigue; they tend to stop engaging when they reach this level. Keeping sessions helps to decrease fatigue and keeps folks locked in.
  • Break up the session with activities. We had great success in assigning activities offline for folks to do in the middle sessions. They would participate in the activity, then return to the screen to talk about the results. This strategy increases engagement and also gives folks a break.

After the Session:

  • Send folks out with homework. Have folks leave the session with an assignment. Even if this assignment isn’t something that needs to be turned in, leaving with purpose helps folks to keep thinking about the topics discussed in the PD session.
  • Ask for and be open to feedback. This is essential. For our team, it was important to learn what worked and how we could improve these sessions in the future.