"Awesome!" "Life Changing." "Best Staff Development I have EVER attended!" "This academy didn't just change my teaching; it changed ME."
In Engage Me Academy (formerly WOW! Academy) teachers go all the way through designing a truly engaging lesson. We show them how to manage the classroom in a new way, becoming the "guides on the side" instead of "sages on the stage."
What I have found in years of doing staff development is that people do what is done unto them in the classroom. This gave me the idea to do unto them what I'd like them to do unto their students, acting it out myself as the "teacher" in your teacher's real-life classroom.
It's a powerful experience. I am always impressed by teams of teachers who work into the evenings long after the workday ends to get their final products ready to go. I have trouble getting them to take breaks for lunch. On presentation day, they frequently dress in costumes and bring in elaborate props of their own devising. It's really an awesome experience. In one academy we had a group from North Zulch acted out a "Secret Mission" project and showed up dressed all in black with black sunglasses, arms crossed. They gave each of us a QR code with a message about our assignment . . . well, you get the picture, they REALLY got into it and put on a great show. I don't even have to wonder what their students thought when they were given their secret missions back at home.
But the point of all this is not just to put on a great show, it's to show how engaging PBL is, then to turn that around and show how motivating it is to students. Ultimately, we want to send teachers back to school knowing how it can work in the classroom and having some tools to help them in their journeys.