How Do I Plan a Professional Development Day?

You can organize a professional development day scheduling an entire work day of training for your employees and preparing a schedule of learning activities to help them advance their careers. The day can be used as a concentrated effort to bring an entire staff up to speed on a specific topic or as a structured opportunity for employees to gain knowledge and CEUs while at work. Although it has many of the same trappings as a conference, it differs because it is usually organized an employer, takes place as a substitute for a regular day of work, and is scheduled to fulfill a work-related credentialing requirement.

Teaching at the compulsory school level is perhaps the most structured use of professional development days. In the United States, for example, school districts are required to have professional development plans in place for their teachers to ensure that they are meeting the continuing education requirements for teacher certification. To improve their skills, teachers must earn a certain number of educational credits each year. Districts and individual schools plan days when students are excused from school but teachers attend a day-long series of trainings and seminars that provide them with continuing education credits all at once.

It’s usually best to start planning a professional development day forming an event committee. Then choose a date and a location that can accommodate a large group of people and multiple educational sessions at the same time. Reserve the day for professional development on the work calendar if the day will benefit a specific group of workers, such as teachers. This informs employees that they will report to work as usual, but will be doing something different.

Professional development days can also be held in a non-obligatory setting. Trade associations that accredit their members frequently hold days with multiple educational opportunities for credit. If you were in charge of planning this type of event, you would choose a date and rely on member registration rather than mandatory attendance that would replace a day’s worth of work. The date could be set during the week to serve as a workday substitute if an employer permits, or it could be set on a weekend or off day to take place during a member’s free time.

You must decide whether the professional development day should focus on a specific topic or have a theme. On the other hand, the day could include a mix of topics that align with the school’s professional development plan. Arrange for topical sessions to be led guest speakers or trainers, and create an agenda. Finally, use your committee to manage the event’s incidentals, such as food preparation, photocopying, and contingency planning.