After thinking about all of the Professional Learning I’ve sat in, I tried to name some of the best ones where I was able to come back to my classroom and implement all of the wonderful ideas that were shared. Thinking about it… thinking… and even more thinking. It was almost impossible to come up with a session that I attended where it wasn’t the same ‘ol sit and get method. In fact, 95% of all the PL that takes place in our district follow the same structure. Through my graduate course, EDLD 5389, I’ve learned effective strategies to create PL for our teachers that is both engaging and successful. In preparation for our implementation of my innovation plan, ePortfolios, I find it necessary to improve on what we’ve been so accustomed to, and move to this new alternative PL opportunity. Through hands-on learning, we will dive into the world of ePortfolios by creating our own, after modeling, experimentation, exploration and a lot of support. The PL will be ongoing as we delve into the many facets of what can be accomplished through ePortfolios and we will be providing ongoing support along the way, whether it be understanding of concepts, technology support, or anything else that may arise. Together as a team, we will provide opportunities for growth and motivate each other so that we can all be successful. In turn, we will be creating ePortfolio experts that will be able to take what they learned and implement it into their classrooms to create critical thinking, problem solving ePortfolio geniuses. We can’t continue to use the same PL method of “sit and get” and expect it to be successful when we’ve seen first hand that it isn’t (Harapnuik, 2021).
Professional Learning Reimagined! Going From Meh… To Motivating!
Do you remember the beginning of year Professional Learning sessions where the day was spent sitting at a table staring at a speaker presenting on the amazing new concept of…..
(teachers) What’s for lunch? Did you watch the last episode of…? Did you see what she was wearing?
Today’s classrooms are expected to be engaging! Why are we not doing the same for our teachers? We are expecting our teachers to create critical thinkers and problem solvers. We should be modeling this in our PLsessions instead of the old “sit and get” method that has been proven to be highly ineffective.
Moving to an Alternative PL method, we will create the memorable, insightful, and successful learning opportunity we envisioned for all involved. Which will lead to greater success for not only our teachers, but into their classrooms as well.
To move into a more successful PL method we need to understand some of the key factors that will help us create the success we desire. We must allow for collaboration amongst professionals. Be truly engaging and present content in a way that is easily understood. Make sure that their is ongoing support throughout the entire process and afterward. Effectively model what we want the audience to understand. And, make sure what is being presented is relevant to everyone in the room.
Collaboration is something so beneficial when done correctly. We should group our teachers by grade level for the implementation of the innovation plan to ensure that what is being discussed amongst the group is relevant to them. Have those groups create a “wildly important goal” to work towards for every session. Have the groups strategize how they will work towards their goals and share ideas and bring new concepts to the table. And then, they can make a plan of action for their group that will help them stay on track.
Engage. Moving away from the “sit and get” method, we must ensure that we are truly engaging in our PL. By creating engaging ways for our teachers to easily understand the concepts being presented, they will be able to actively participate in making sense of the new concept. Modeling is so important in our classrooms, as it is with our teachers as well. We must model what we want them to grasp, and do it slowly, being specific, and allow for open ended discussions. Making our content specific to the audience, so that they can relate to what we are presenting will also be engaging.
Ongoing support is probably one of the most important factors to successful Professional Learning. We must ensure that teachers feel comfortable to ask questions, make mistakes, and have support not only while in PL sessions but afterwards as well. PLs should not be a one day and done session, but something that continues, revisited, developed deeper and expanded. The support must be available during implementation so that teachers can figure out how the concepts can best fit their classroom. And reflection on what worked and what didn’t as a whole and in groups is extremely valuable.
As important as modeling is in our classrooms, the same goes for our teachers. We should provide examples in our sessions, but also provide accessible examples that they can view afterward. Creating step by step guides of how a concept can be implemented can also aid in the learning process and successful implementation. And allowing for questioning and discussions throughout will prove beneficial.
Finally, keep the concepts and information relevant to the audience. Provide examples of how the information being presented can help them in their classrooms, how it will help them achieve success. We’ve all been in those meetings where we thought, “What does this have to do with me?”
So, when we make that shift to this new PL method, we move from the meh… of professional development, and the stigma that has to…
An exciting and engaging new opportunity that will help guide us to hugely successful Professional Learning where teachers leave the sessions wanting more, excited to implement what they’ve learned, and knowing that they have the ongoing support they will need to move through to excellence.
Amongst some of my teacher friends, I posed the question, “What is a Professional Learning session that stood out to you?” Instantly, I saw the frowns on their faces and knew it wasn’t just me that had many bad experiences with PL. I shared with them Allison Gulamhussein’s “Teaching the Teachers” and had them all excited, thinking of what our next PL could potentially look like and how effective it could be. In creating my presentation, I first used Google slides, incorporating photos using the search tool. After several tries and long discussion with a WordPress representative, I was unable to fully embed my slideshow into WordPress. I had to settle for a link. I included the commentary in visual form on this page so that it was easier to understand and follow.
Harapnuik, D. (2021, April 17). EDLD 5389 introduction [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4Zr3u6D3OU
Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the Teachers Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability. Center for Public Education. Retrieved from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/system/files/2013-176_ProfessionalDevelopment.pdf
Lascala, M. (2019). 30 quotes about change, because we never stop evolving. Retrieved from https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/g25383377/quotes-about-change /?slide=12