Community-driven insights for PD

Monday, July 17, 2023

The results of our professional development survey are in – thank you to all the Kitchen Garden Program members who participated.

A major part of what we do at the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation is education, and we take that role seriously and with great honour. We want to make sure what we’re offering is accessible and valuable. That’s why we asked our Kitchen Garden community how our professional development opportunities could better suit members as well as the schools and services they are a part of.

The results of the survey have given the professional development team a lot to work with, and they’ve made some significant changes to improve the offering for the benefit of our community.

Professional development is crucial in providing ongoing support to the Kitchen Garden community. It inspires, informs, and engages professionals to upskill, reskill and invent. One participant in the survey said, “Participating in anything new is great. By doing, I feel far more confident to give it a go at my school.”

From the survey, we know professional development can be an exciting and enjoyable experience. But we’ve also found out that there is more to be done to make these opportunities accessible for everyone.

Cost can be a significant barrier for attending professional development events. Budgets for kitchen garden programs can be incredibly slim and sometimes it is simply not feasible to spend hard-earned fundraising dollars or part of the budget on PD. To make these opportunities more accessible, we have lowered the cost of program enrichment webinars to just $45 per person.

Regardless of cost, the timing of these live webinars can also be tricky for some members. But whether members can make the live versions of these sessions or not, we ensure they are recorded. In fact, if members sign up, they will receive a copy of the recording and can keep it on hand for a time that’s convenient.

Professional development can be an enriching and immensely rewarding experience, but you can only experience these opportunities if you know about them. To keep our community in the loop, we’ve made a handy tab on our member hub the Shared Table's home page for easy access. We also send out regular emails each term to alert to the opportunities on offer.

As well as making opportunities more accessible, we want to make them better suited to the kind of enhancements needed by our community. Survey responses pointed at a real desire for more content relating to specific gardening and cooking skills, as well as tools to enhance Kitchen Garden Programs. You asked, we listened.

This August, we’ll be hosting Karen Sutherland, expert tomato grower, who will talk to growing tomatoes with children. She’s an expert in her field and will give you top tips on planning and timing, soil preparation, seed raising, training methods, varieties, and troubleshooting pests and diseases. You can book in for that session, happening August 23, now.

I like a masterclass in anything! I always learn something new.

–PD survey respondent

Also on the horizon, we have resident kitchen educator extraordinaire and Professional Development Lead, Suzie, hosting an online pasta party where she will be exploring a variety of pasta making techniques.

Early next year, our Professional Development Coordinator, Kate Beckwith will present a Program Enrichment Webinar on garden activities for challenging weather days – a must-attend for everyone given the temperamental weathers. Hot tip: Kate’s also provided us with some heart-warming wellbeing ideas, which you can see here.

Looking forward to 2024, we’re excited to present a program enrichment webinar exploring ways to link the Program to specific learning outcomes.

We'll use this information to provide educators with relevant, impactful and accessible PD in the year ahead.

–Kate Beckwith, Professional Development Coordinator

We extend our gratitude to everyone who participated in the survey. As our Professional Development Coordinator, Kate Beckwith puts it, “It has been so helpful to hear from the community: I feel a greater awareness of the challenges and special considerations that impact kitchen garden educators, and we’ve taken on board lots of super suggestions, thanks to their feedback.”

Members can stay up-to-date with PD opportunities, both live and online, on the Shared Table.

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