An #EdChatME #NEXTSTEPS post: #Empathy-Fueled PD (based on @AOS94ME Oct 7 workshop day)

Written by Matt Drewette-Card (@DrewetteCard)

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.

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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:

  • Continuously Improve and Positively Affect Student Achievement and Learning
  • Develop a Personalized and Student-Centered Learning Culture
  • Develop, Implement, Integrate, and Evaluate a Rigorous Vision for Classroom Instruction

As a result of this discussion with teachers, instructional coaches, and administrators, we threw together a list of potential topics that are directly related to these goals.  This list was sent out to all staff to rank the topics in order of “Highly Interested,” “Moderately Interested,” “Low Interest,” and “No Interest.”  Here were the results of the “Highly Interested” & “Moderately Interested”:

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Looking at these topics creatively and strategically, we were able create eight session topics:
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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.

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