How do we schedule on-site professional development?
Booking a Smekens consultant starts with an email or phone call to Brady Smekens, Director of Professional Development. Brady will spend time visiting with an instructional leader (often an administrator) to learn more about your instructional challenges and professional development goals. Then Brady will identify the best-qualified consultant to support your teachers and find dates on the calendar that work for everyone.
How far in advance should we schedule on-site PD?
Occasionally, we can fill a last-minute professional development need, but in most situations we are scheduling our consultants to lead customized on-site PD 6-18 months in advance. This is especially true if you are embarking on a bigger initiative that requires several, carefully-scheduled on-site visits.
What happens after on-site training dates are secured?
After a school has secured dates to provide on-site professional development for teachers, the Smekens team then drafts a contract that outlines the details, such as start/end times, itinerary, topics, etc. Once the contract is complete, the school contact person and the Smekens literacy consultant will work closely to plan for a powerful on-site experience.
What materials are required for Smekens on-site training?
Smekens deals in best-practice teaching strategies, not in boxed curriculums. For this reason, an on-site training never requires the purchase of any specific resources. Occasionally, we recommend resources such as Launching the Writer’s Workshop ($20 each) to accompany an on-site training, but it is never required.
How should we plan our time with the consultant?
We want to help you maximize the time with your Smekens consultant so that you can capture the most value for your investment. With that in mind, the day could include a full-day session with the entire staff, two half-day sessions with different groups, 60-90-minute grade-level rotations, before or after-school meetings, or whatever other option we can schedule in a typical school day.
Do you offer half-day sessions?
We are happy to lead a half-day professional development for teachers. However, we still have to charge the full-day rate due to the fact that we’ve dedicated the entire day to supporting your school. That said, there are lots of ways that we can impact teachers during the other half of the day, too, such as mini-lesson modeling, team planning, and so on.
What is mini-lesson modeling?
After we’ve taught educators about best-practice mini-lesson strategies in reading and writing, our consultants welcome the opportunity to model those same strategies in your classrooms. Known as mini-lesson modeling, this professional learning involves small teams of teachers watching as the consultant delivers a 10-15 minute mini-lesson with real kids. The mini-lesson model includes a consultant-led discussion before and after the lesson to pre-load and then debrief. Teachers love seeing how strategies come to life with their own students!
Will you do classroom observations?
There’s a lot that can be gained when an outside consultant conducts classroom observations and offers feedback. And while our consultants can perform this role, we prefer to postpone this type of support until several on-site visits have been made to your school. It’s important that we have built a solid trust among teachers so that observations will result in helpful coaching from the consultant, not critical evaluation.
When do we pay for our on-site PD?
We are happy to send a bill in advance, but, typically, we generate an invoice for on-site professional development on the day the training occurs. Schools and districts then have 30 days to submit payment by check. Credit card payments are not accepted for on-site training.
What type of support is available after an on-site training?
Smekens has several ways to offer follow-up support, including more on-site visits, remote coaching, books and resources, a video subscription, and more. However, when the contracted on-site training has concluded, teachers are always welcome to contact the consultant by email to seek clarification, get feedback, or share successes.
How do we get funding for on-site professional development?
Schools use a variety of funding sources to pay for on-site professional development from Smekens. Some of the more common funding sources include the general fund, Title I, Title II-A, private foundation grants, community organizations, parent groups, and more.
What is the cancellation policy?
After a date is officially secured to provide on-site PD at a school, the Smekens team will draft a contract that outlines all the details. Once the contract has been signed by both parties, there is mutual agreement that the contract will not be cancelled. However, in the rare occasion that a cancellation is necessary, notification of the cancellation must occur 90 days prior to the scheduled training. Cancellations occurring within 90 days of the scheduled training may still result in full financial commitment, unless Smekens is able to book the date with another school.