What is a one day workshop good for?


Your staff need to adopt some new practices, strengthen some old practices or just learn some basic skills. How will you help them grow and improve in their jobs? Is a one day workshop a good fit for your needs?

Time is an issue. Funding is an issue. Trying to get your whole staff together is difficult, so funneling everyone to a one-day meeting makes sense...but not when it comes to professional learning. One shot workshops just don’t cut it.

Learning takes time.  If you want to see behavior change or integration of new ideas and skills, staff need to access learning when they need it and over a period of time.

To increase knowledge and skills, effective professional development needs to be:

  • Sustained and long-term

  • Focused on subject matter or content

  • Hands-on

  • Collaborative

  • Integrated into daily life of the out-of-school time program

  • Linked to youth outcomes

  • Supportive of building staff competencies

So, yeah. Some of these characteristics could describe a one-day workshop...except for the number one thing: sustained and long-term. Real learning occurs over multiple opportunities to learn, practice, reflect, adapt and try again. That’s not really possible in one day. Sure, you may have PD providers who assure that your staff will attain a long list of outcomes by the end of the day, but that’s not how learning *actually* works.

As long as we have realistic expectations, a lot IS possible in a one day session like:

  • A taste or an introduction to a topic

  • An opportunity to build community

  • To discuss sensitive topics

  • Time to share problems and solutions

  • A launchpoint for a longer term learning community

When you’re planning your professional development for the year, consider your goals and what content really does need to be facilitated in person. When possible, use online platforms to provide ongoing, sustained access to professional learning.  


School day research that we’re applying to the out-of-school context:

Darling-Hammond & Sykes, 1999; Garet, Porter, Desimone, Birman, & Yoon, 2001; Joyce, Wolf, & Calhoun, 1993; Loucks- Horsley, Hewson, Love, & Stiles, 1998; National Staff Development Council, 2001; LearningForward, n.d.