During this week's #EdChatME discussion on "Building A Culture of Empathy," I mentioned that I am currently working on designing a day of professional development happening Friday, October 7.
So here's what we've done:
First of all, going back to last June, me and a group of nine other AOS #94 teachers and administrators attended the Learning Sciences International conference on Building Expertise in Orlando, Florida. It sparked several conversations and "A-Ha's" related to student achievement, student-centered learning, and rigorous instruction. This led to a collaborative design of some learning targets for our professional learning environments this year, which are defined as:
Looking at these topics creatively and strategically, we were able create eight session topics:
Each session will have designated facilitators to help guide the work being done. That's an important distinction about this day: facilitators. We will be using a coaching model, not a lecture model, for this professional learning day. Each session will be ninety minutes long, and there will be three of each session over the course of the day (see full schedule here). There is no mandated trajectory or path teachers must take. There are options on all of the major initiatives and goals for the district. To help teachers determine their paths, here are the Norms and Expectations for the day:
The Norms are very much based on the EdCamp-style of norms. If a teacher is in a session for forty-five minutes and is satisfied with her work, she can get up and move to another session. This time for learning belongs to the teachers, and this time is precious. Teachers should not feel "locked in" to a session at any point. If it's not working: go somewhere else. Learn and work with intention and purpose is a major theme of the day.
Another major part of this day is ensuring that there is limited "Workshop Learning Loss." We've all experienced this, and because this learning time is so precious and valuable, teachers should be thinking about which sessions they will attend that will intentionally and purposefully support their work, their needs, and provide them with the clarifications they need in supporting the goals of the district. Teachers will be required to submit an "Implementation Plan" after each session to explain how they will use what they have learned purposefully and intentionally, and this information will be added into their professional growth and effectiveness plans (aka teacher evaluations). They will be an important factor in aligning to our "Overall Professional Practice" standard that is a combination of all four domains in the Marzano Teacher Evaluation Framework.
The core users for our professional learning environment are our teachers. By using an empathy-fueled model of designing the learning environments, we can make our environments more personalized, more relevant, more purposeful and more intentional.
What do you think? I'd love to hear your feedback and/or ideas.
During this week's #EdChatME, I brought up a "What if:"
This is not just an idea, though. It gets to the entire point of a personalized learning environment. Real world learning is rarely isolated or "siloed" (as we like to say in education). Real-world learning is often a jumble of everything together, and the trick is knowing how and when to use which content and skills. Isn't that the point of education? To get our kids ready for "real life," however that is defined? And since we cannot define it beyond an individualized scope, maybe we shouldn't try. Maybe, instead, we focus on the environments. We focus on the spaces between the silos as the real magic to where real learning and achievement occurs.
So, how might we (HMW) design curriculum and instruction in a way that is relevant, but still meeting state & local expectations?
Historically, we've focused on ELA/Math, because of the impact and "importance" of standardized testing. A personalized learning and proficiency-based learning environment, though, doesn't care about testing as much; it cares about learning. And the systems we use should be built around principles of effective learning, and the individualized needs of our core users (students). Since ELA/Math are easily embedded and connected with every other content area, #whatif we focused our core requirements on the areas of Social Studies, Science, Art, Engineering, Health, and Physical Education? #Whatif we made ELA/Math more authentically integrated to those other content areas? What kind of learning and achievement impact would we have?
I am thrilled to be working on this with a dedicated team of amazing educators at AOS #94. We started off looking at the standards and learning targets for Science and Social Studies, and made connections between the two, developing driving challenges to focus our students on inquiry (versus content). Some examples of the challenges our students will be facing:
Each of these challenges are deeply and explicitly connected to the Next Generation Science Standards and the Maine Social Studies standards, as well as the Common Core standards for Mathematics and English/Language Arts. We have allotted approximately 8-10 weeks per challenge, and have scaffolded our assessments and instruction based on the levels of cognitive complexity/demand embedded in the standards and learning targets.
Oh, and we've also designed similar plans for second and third grade as well.
Have I mentioned that the educators at AOS #94 are truly #awesomesauce? I can't say it enough.
How are you intentionally and explicitly integrating and connecting the content to make more authentic and relevant learning experiences? Share your story with us on #edchatme!