Four Ways to Transform the Professional Learning Experience

In the February 2019 issue of Language Magazine, Pam Allyn, Senior Vice President, Innovation & Development, Scholastic Education, and Dr. Carol Chanter, Senior Vice President, Professional Learning Services, Scholastic Education, outlined four ways to cultivate learning experiences for educators that are both effective and enjoyable.

1. Blend it

A mix of face-to-face learning with online learning is a practical blend that helps to accommodate scheduling conflicts. To create the ideal scenario for your school or district, work with your professional development partner to customize your solution so that your teams are together for the kind of whole-group learning from which everyone can benefit, and individual time is spent tailored.

2. Disrupt the mindset

There is often a mindset in the arena of professional learning that the experience will be oppressive, dull, and predetermined. Teachers may feel the presenter does not know a thing about their experience, their students, or the work they have done to date. In order to counter this, make sure there is ample opportunity for teachers to weigh in beforehand either through a survey tool or via virtual documents, to share what questions are front and center for them or what they would want the facilitator to know specifically about their needs.

3. Personalize learning

We need intervals of more personalized learning at every age. One size does not fit all. We cannot identify teachers as “grade-level” learners, or assess easily what knowledge is going to help transform a struggling teacher or propel a master teacher even further down the road to excellence. Create a committee for personalized professional learning composed of teachers, administrators, and anyone else involved in the work. Empower the group to establish several options for learning by interviewing and polling the teams. Develop a finite set of options that are based on the wide feedback and the vision the leader has for the school or district.

4. Keep it ongoing

Set up a teacher cohort to work long term on the planning, and connect it always to the big ideas of the school or district. By involving stakeholders, the internal team can arrive at their own conclusions and implement new approaches. Have them begin surveying topics of focus for professional learning, and don’t forget the opportunity presented for new hires.

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