What are the ingredients of a successful educational conference or workshop? What makes professional learning relevant and impactful?
Recently, I had the chance to sit down and discuss how educators learn with Michael Medvinsky and Ben Gilpin on the #UnearthED Radio Show. The catalyst for our conversation was the renowned Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) conference.
Although we only spoke for 10 minutes or so, we dove into the very nature of professional learning. I’ve spent the better part of the past five years researching digital age professional learning. As part of my doctoral dissertation I interviewed innovative leaders across the country. More recently, I contributed a few words to a book on PersonalizedPD. Through it all, I’m more convinced than ever that it’s not about “how” we learn…it’s more about “why” we learn.
Memos and mandates do not drive learning. We learn because we are open to the idea of becoming. We learn because we are curious. We learn because we understand that new processes and pedagogy might benefit our students even if the content does not change. We learn because we are networked and connected.
“Lifelong learning is a mindset not a mantra; it is the lens and disposition we bring to every situation we encounter.”
When we open our minds to the possibilities that await we’ve created the very conditions needed for learning. Click HERE to listen to the UnearthED Show, and hear Michael and Ben share their beliefs about how educators learn. (You can also subscribe to #UnearthED Show on iTunes).
I’d love to hear how you learn best, and why you think some educators might be less inclined to learn the same way.
Each year our school plans monthly breakout sessions based on student needs, staff requests, site priorities, assessment data, and district vision. Last year our team expressed an interest in taking the learning and relationships from individual breakout sessions deeper. With the help of some Greenwood teacher-leaders and an amazing administrative intern we developed a cohort model that keeps teachers connected around a single unit of study for three months. We believe that the conversations, reflection, and collaboration that will occur between the sessions is just as valuable as the formal learning time.
The K-2 and 3-5 cohorts were designed to address the different developmental levels of students (primary or intermediate). Sometimes these levels mean staff have unique needs due to differences in curriculum, technology capabilities of primary/intermediate students, and the types of conversations we can have about race/culture with a kindergartner versus a 5th grader.
We are using a ‘Flipped’ approach to professional development so that we can maximize our time when we meet face-to-face. (This basically means that staff will have the opportunity to choose from various articles and videos to review prior to attending a session in person.) The article for September’s session was from ASCD (2015) called, “Approaching Race from the Inside Out,” by Alexandria Neason.
The resources below are for the October and November sessions on Racial Equity and Cultural Proficiency.
Culturally Responsive Teacher Matters Article by Elizabeth Kozleski
6 Reasons to Teach African-American History All Year Round Article by Andrea Thorpe
Color Blind or Color Brave TED Talk by Mellody Hobson
How to Overcome Your Biases TED Talk by Verna Myers