We used a variety of configurations designed to meet the needs of our teachers. For those who took the original Essentials program in the summer, we offered two weeks of morning classes. During the school year, we offered courses once a week in the late afternoon and had our initial date and final dates on Saturdays. This gave us fewer week nights to meet. I'm not sure if there is a perfect configuration since so much depends on how far folks need to travel and what time of year it is. Are there other ways any of you have found that worked well for you?
Thanks Margaret, that is helpful. Here in SA we tend to run the course over 4 or 5 days in the school holidays. I did one course over two consecutive weekends (Saturday and Sunday) but that was so tiring and left the participants little time to think about their project between sessions because of course the week is busy at school. I think the online version is the best but here in SA we struggle with Internet connectivity. So many people just don't have it out of school hours or there isn't enough bandwidth at their school. Things will improve with time but for now we, "do what we can, with what we have, where we are". Theodore Rooseveldt?
In our state, teachers are very reluctant to give up Saturdays or even holidays unless there are MAJOR incentives involved. We find that they would rather choose to give up several evenings instead.
Perhaps you can mention to your fellow trainer that polling the participants can sometimes offer valuable information in terms of how to schedule the courses. No schedule will work for everyone but at least the majority can decide and they would be held accountable for completing all days.
My best experience has been to schedule Saturdays in a row. A number of schools in my region have gone to a 4-day week this year, so I have scheduled 5 Fridays in a row. I think it will probably work as well.
I have not had a high attrition rate- perhaps because of incentives provided by districts for teachers who complete the program.
Another scheduling variation I have had success with is to give them several weeks in between the 4th and 5th session so that they have time to work indepentdently on their unit plans. This seems to work well as long as they have a good support system to work with during the hiatus- such as the Engage Community!
It is important to balance weeks in a row vs. spreading out the whole schedule- too much time in between sessions seems to lead to less commitment!
I have found that consecutive days make it very difficult to get high-quality Unit Plans.
The Essentials courses I have run for the past year have all been the hybrid "online" version. As long as you establish good online community work prior to the online portion, this can be very effective. Ongoing communication is the KEY!
With my Online Essentials, I usually schedule 2 Saturdays in a row. During the 8-9 week online period, I try to have a few afternoons scheduled on my calendar in order to have the lab open for participants to come in and work on their modules. Many teachers take advantage of this, as their schedules are hectic and they can use the time to work and have someone available to answer any questions.
Thanks to everyone who has responded in this discussion. It's been good to get some feedback on how others manage the training. I'm looking forward to facilitating an Essentials Online group in our new school year. It will also be great to have contact with so many other experienced trainers through Engage. Thanks guys.