Are you planning professional development and wondering how to make connections and build relationships with experts and practitioners in the field? Here are three tips for successful partnerships with subject matter experts, also known as SMEs.
1) A Brief Time Commitment
When you contact potential experts make sure to offer a brief time commitment of an hour or two working with staff. From this initial commitment many SMEs develop an interest in working with the school and will continue the partnership.
2) Meaningful Work
It’s easy to fall into the lecture role when you’re an expert. Instead of scheduling a speaking engagement, gather a small group of educators to meet with a SME to evaluate teaching materials. Some workshop ideas might include:
● Shared analysis of a lesson plan or teaching unit
● Modeling field-based experiences to replicate in the classroom
● Developing real-world scenarios for learning activities
3) Use Technology to Connect
Give volunteers the opportunity to physically be at school but don’t forget that technology allows for collaboration with experts from all over the world. Connecting by teleconference synchronously or recording messages for asynchronous delivery might work as well.
4) Bring in the Experts
You might not be able to locate a SME in a particular field, or one that has the availability that matches your schedule or needs. Look to a vendor with SME expertise and find someone that your district or school can work with to get the real-world expertise needed for planning and executing great professional development experiences.