24 June 2015

Which style of 'Lunch and Learn' session suits your teachers? A simple comparison.

What is a Lunch & Learn Session? 

Teachers are time poor where I come from and there is an expectation to attend professional development throughout the year. I believe in professional renewal and encourage all staff to gain as much training as possible to stay current in the field on education. This is difficult for some teachers to handle because they are either opposed to PD or simply don't have time.

I think priorities have to change and teachers need to engage in meaningful professional development as much as they can. In such a time-critical workplace, I trialled 2 "Lunch and Learn" sessions this week with varying success.

Traditionally, Lunch and Learn sessions were aimed at engaging employees into PD while bribing them with lunch. Employees would typically sit around a boardroom table eating lunch and taking notes while a presentation was given on a particular topic. I see how this would be successful in the corporate world and I'm sure there've been many businesses who've leveraged this concept to initiate and run PD sessions.

I decided to go on a slightly different tangent when implementing Lunch and Learn sessions for my teachers. This was largely because teachers have different needs and varying time schedules, I wanted to engage the largest number of teachers I could in the shortest amount of time and effort. The ability to be meaningful, relevant and still efficient in delivering PD was my main goal in implement this style teacher training.

Lunch and Learn – Open Door

The first version of the Lunch and Learn sessions was not unlike a ‘Pop-Up IT Helpdesk’. I chose to use the main lunchroom as my central location and staff were invited to bring their lunch and laptop along with them. I had advertised the sessions as an open invitation to ask me any IT questions they had. I also encouraged staff to think about lessons/assessment they might want to enhance using technology.

The session went for roughly an hour and in this format, staff were coming and going as they pleased or once their questions had been answered. There was a great dialogue happening in the lunchroom with others stepping in to offer their own advice and insight. I was able to:
  • help a number of staff with problems they’d been having
  • demonstrated and taught new concepts and process
  • improved planned lessons with technology

Lunch and Learn – Structured

The second session was far more structured. I had recently sent a staff member away to complete some Professional Development. On her return, I had asked if she could present a 20 min session on one or two major concepts with interested staff during a lunchtime.

This session was also well attended with staff encouraged the bring their lunch along with them. There were some great conversations happening over a bite to eat and staff were engaged in the mini PD session; there was even an interactive element to the workshop. Overall staff were pleased with the value of this workshop and we hope to replicate it again soon.


In the Open Door session, the biggest advantage was staff had the flexibility to come and go as they pleased. They also had the choice as to what professional learning they wanted to dive into. In a public space like a lunchroom, it was also a benefit having other staff involved in a professional dialogue to support their colleagues in implementing technology in their lessons.

In the Structured session, only staff who would directly benefit from the topic covered in the session would consider going. It was only relevant for a minority of staff, in this case though, those who attended found value in it.

The benefits for each Lunch and Learn session differed somewhat and both were valuable. It’s really up to you to decide which platform will better suit your needs.