What are key ideas to designing professional learning that includes a process of ongoing evaluation that emphasizes improvements for using technology for high-impact teaching and learning? Based on ISTE Coaching Standard 5C
#1 Consistent purpose and #2 Clear communication
Having a unifying purpose and vision that is consistently reiterated at meetings, staff emails, part of communication to students and families helps establish a unifying culture amongst staff, students, and the community. The ability to communicate this vision and connect to specific steps and strategies in building professional learning opportunities to staff is also important to continue to make progress in achieving the vision.
#3 Meet staff needs #4 and Learning preferences
Providing professional learning that challenges staff is an aspect of transformational leadership; however, it is important building leaders consider the zone of appropriate development and social-emotional context of the building culture. Another considering aspect is the skill level of staff– especially with technology. Professional learning opportunities should be provided for a wide range of staff abilities, and the need for extension options and intervention training should also be a consideration for staff. Modeling elements of high-impact learning as professional learning opportunities allows staff to experience these strategies and also see them in action.
Providing a staff resource hub to continually access training videos, tutorial excerpts, and examples allows staff to work in smaller collaborative teams or individually, based upon their preference. Much like each lesson in a classroom should be a marker on a map towards a larger journey, so too should professional learning clearly outline and support the larger vision and journey of the building / district.
#5 Celebrating a culture of learning #6 and a Culture of collaboration
One of the most difficult components (in my opinion) is creating a culture of learning and collaboration that reflects a growth mindset. Helping educators understand the most recent neurological research and providing ample conversations where outdated research (and practices) are challenged is difficult and can easily erode trust.
Strong leadership is needed that is willing to support and coach individuals and teams as necessary without the imbalance of authority. Providing opportunities for staff to participate in successful, collaborative teams is an important step. Trust (and being able to have vulnerable conversations) also takes working together over time to develop. Providing ample and appropriate opportunities for staff to collaborate in their teams and across teams allows staff opportunities to become a team. If each member feels heard, supported, included, and a valued member of a team helps build a culture in which learning can grow exponentially because the brain feels safe and ready.
While there are a multitude of other factors involved in each key item mentioned here, these six key items form a strong hex shape that connects and interacts with each element. Thinking about each component can help create a professional learning system and also provide a clear evaluation option to guide evaluation over time.
References & Resources
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“It’s Time to Restructure Teacher Professional Development” by Mike Schmoker Education Week, 2015 LINK
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Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Buckley, J. A., Bridge, B. K., and Hayek, J. C. (2006). “What matters to student success: A review of the literature.” Commissioned Report for the “National Symposium on Postsecondary Student Success: Spearheading a Dialog on Student Success.” National Postsecondary Educational Cooperative. 151 pp. http://nces.ed.gov/IPEDS/research/pdf/Kuh_Team_Report.pdf
Lang-Raad, Nathan, Dr. “Creating Authentic Professional Learning Experiences in a Distance/Blended Learning Environment” Webinar 02 Feb 2021.
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National Education Technology Plan: Leadership and Infrastructure sections
“Professional development for personalized learning practices.” Hanover Research, 2013. https://www.hanoverresearch.com/media/Professional-Development-for-Personalized-Learning-Practices.pdf
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