A less than gentle nudge this week from George Couros has pushed me to think about what I am learning, but more importantly how sharing the process is a critical step for my continued learning and growth. So, I will begin now -not tomorrow or the next day or hold off until next year even though my blog is not pretty or organized, or anything really, except a URL at this point.
As much as it pains me to admit, I have required teachers to create blogs for multiple classes that I have taught over the years and they always have such positive responses to the process of documenting and sharing their learning. I have even maintained a family blog for over 7 years to document my kids’ lives but I have never publicly shared my learning to drive my thinking as an educator. I am good at helping others to share their work. I celebrate my peers and our partners in schools. I happily share their work and help them push boundaries of their own thinking. At the core, I am a coach of educators- not sports- except for the 2 years I unsuccessfully coached our 7th grade girls basketball team. I love seeing others learn and make connections that catapult their learning and the experiences they create for students to new levels. As was pointed out this week, more than a few times, I am not as forthcoming with my own learning and have yet to share my process for anything I have done. I have a lot of good excuses though: we need a media relations person to do it, our districts should share the work, it just needs a few more revisions, and of course time. There is never enough time!
In spite of my excuses, I would consider myself a life long learner who values all forms of collaboration and connections with people all over the world. Up until 3 years ago I have been in school and I continually been reflecting, sharing, and collaborating in formal and informal processes with structured readings and assignments and I enjoyed it….most of the time. Now that I am done with formal schooling, I think, I recognize that there is still so much to learn. I need to create my own learning space and broaden my learning community from the classroom to a more connected, global community of learners.
I had been thinking about this after having some quiet time to reflect and I opened my kindle app and began reading where I had last left off in The Art of Coaching: Effective Strategies for School Transformation and saw this quote:
Transformational coaching is possible only when the coach is engaged in a process of transforming her own behaviors, beliefs, and being along with the client.
I knew I could no longer postpone sharing my thinking if I’m going to be the educator and learner that I want to be. So, I opened up a new note and began writing. It is my quest to dig deeper into my own thinking, beliefs, and processes and document them here. Starting with #3questionsEDU to drive my learning felt like the right place to start on this journey.
My 3 questions to drive my learning are:
- What structures and incentives facilitate personalized, competency-based professional learning?
I typically see 1 of 2 approaches to professional learning in schools. The first approach focuses on teachers or leaders who are motivated and comfortable with technology who are then provided more access to technology. Then they get more professional development and typically create pockets of innovation leaving the majority of classrooms on campus unchanged. The other approach I see is the “one size fits all” model where everyone attends the same mandatory trainings so the people in charge can assure more people in charge that everyone has been “trained” leaving the majority of classrooms and/or schools unchanged.
It has become increasingly clear through research and practice that professional learning must include:
-Models and experiences of the desired transformation
-Choice and voice in the time, place, path, pace
-Robust systems of support rather than isolated learning events.
So my 1st question is really focused on the balance of pressure and support to ensure all teachers on campus are supported to provide optimal learning experiences for all students.
- How might we create a culture of collaboration where teachers regularly observe and provide feedback to their peers for growth and development apart from evaluation?
Teachers’ repeatedly tell me they prefer to learn something new by watching other teachers in context, trying it out in their own classrooms, and talking about it with other experienced teachers. They crave protected and sustained time for collaboration with their peers but often are not as productive in that time as they want to be without facilitative leadership. We also know that educators are more likely to be innovative when they have a common understanding about the vision, collaborate about best teaching practices, are provided opportunities to learn and practice new methods, facilitated by continuous opportunities for growth and support. I want to better understand the nuances of how effective leaders provide time for teachers to collaborate with effective facilitation, but not control, to maximize time, resources and ultimately impact student outcomes?
- How might leaders support teachers to design learning experiences that develop the global competencies of all students?
To feel confident as designers of powerful learning experiences many teachers express having to learn two things: how to operate the technology and how to integrate its use into learning and teaching. Teachers want to increase their effectiveness with technology integration through professional development, but recognize they also need the time and space to translate these skills into their classroom practice. It takes time to internalize and integrate technology in meaningful ways in the classroom. How might we prioritize time within the school day to provide teachers resources and flexibility to design learning experiences that fully realize the potential of the technology and truly transform learning?
I’m looking forward to blogging and connecting with many of you that can help me deepen my thinking and answer these questions.