1. KNOW YOUR TEAM. Talk to your staff, make sure you know about their strengths and weaknesses, find out what floats their boat so that you can support them to be the best they can be.


  1. KNOW YOUR SERVICE. Where do you want to be?  How do you want to operate?  What do you believe in?  Know where you’re going so that you know where to focus your PD budget.


  1. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN. Put an action plan in place so that you can be ensure your PD budget is spread effectively.  If you have to rush to spend your PD budget at the end of the financial year you might make poor decisions.


  1. LOOK BEYOND THE PRICE. We all know more smarties in the packet means a lower cost per smartie.  PD is the same.  Small groups generally cost more.  One on one support costs more. Multiple presenters cost more.  If something is very low cost there is probably a reason and the same applies to higher costs.


  1. THERE’S MORE THAN ONE WAY TO SKIN A CAT. Workshops are great for learning, networking, connecting and sharing knowledge but they aren’t the answer for everyone.  Strategies such as mentoring or coaching for example can be low on cost and high on impact. Don’t be afraid to try a new approach.


  1. MIRACLES DON’T HAPPEN IN 2 HOUR WORKSHOPS. Short, practical workshops can be beneficial as refreshers, conversation starters and for inspiration.  Realistically though, if your service needs major changes you need to make a bigger time and financial investment.  Sometimes they are the only option and in this case you can make them more effective by building in follow up reflection time.  If you have a very limited budget find you-tube clips or readings and use them as topics for reflective conversations which might be just as effective as paid workshops if used well.  Strategies like action research or learning series events have much better results in terms of practice change than one off workshops because of the built in learn, try, reflect, share approach.


  1. MIX IT UP. If you have done 5 professional development workshops in the past two years and they have always been with the same presenter maybe it’s time to try a new perspective.


  1. PUSH OR PAT. Sometimes people need a little support, encouragement or inspiration but sometimes what we really need is provocation or a bit of a push.  If your buttons are being pushed, reflect on why?  What are the facts?  Do I agree or disagree?  What is informing my thinking?  You may feel differently after giving it some thought, you might not.  Either way, it’s always useful to approach learning with an open mind and consider new perspectives.


  1. SET THE SCENE: You know how you spend all that time dedicated to creating a wonderful environment to support children’s learning?  Give the same thought to creating the right space for adult learning.  Adults sitting on small chairs, in a small room eating pizza after work when they are tired with their children perched on their head is possibly cozy, probably fun but not very supportive of learning.


  1. THINK LONG TERM. Children’s services are fortunate to have been provided with the funds to invest in professional development for their staff.  Use it wisely, it won’t be around forever.