January 19, 2018
Ever since we began to write board reports every few months instead of every month I have much more difficulty in choosing my topic. Since I last wrote a board report I have been to the MTSS conference in Wichita and the International Dyslexia Conference in Atlanta. Both of those conferences have made me more aware of the research in literacy as well as replenishing my toolbox of instructional strategies that I can use in trainings and share with teachers to use with students. However, I have chosen to write my board report as an introduction to the book, Professionally Driven by Jarod Bormann. This book may provide the impetus for the Teaching and Learning Department to improve on the way we do business.
One of the new buzzwords in education is personalized learning which means instruction that offers pedagogy, curriculum, and learning environments to meet the individual student’s needs. The experience is tailored to learning preferences and the specific interests of different learners. What if we adopt that learning philosophy to educators? What if professional development became something that starts with a change in teacher practice that leads to a change in student outcomes which eventually changes teachers’ beliefs? What if educators make statements like, “I don’t know enough about (instructional strategy) and I want to learn more?”
Bormann proposes four phases to a more personalized professionally driven learning journey. Phase 1 is Research. When educators need information on a topic they go to conferences, talk to other educators, search for blogs, and other ways to research. The important piece of this phase is to have a purpose for your research and your learning.
Phase 2 is Integrate. This is the phase that is often left out of other professional development models. Educators can spend much time on the research phase but without time allocated to implementation or integration into the classroom research won’t get teachers anywhere.
Phase 3 is Reflect. This is similar to show and tell for educators. This is where we share our professionally driven journey with colleagues. It can be as simple as a TED Talk format. The important thing about the sharing is that we reflect on why we chose our topic, what changes in student outcomes were we hoping to achieve, what steps were taken, and what worked or didn’t work. This phase is what helps build true intrinsic motivation.
Phase 4 is Share. This is sharing beyond your school or district and going outside by blogging and sharing it via social media, presenting at a conference, or any other method.
Schools that have coaches in place can help support teachers in this journey. Teaching and Learning coordinators could also help fill this supporting role. Educators must be the ones who determine what their learning journey should look like, however, support for the journey will be necessary. This journey has to be more than training, as all the educators will be at different places in their journey at different times. This model helps empower educators to be educationally driven in that it fosters a growth mindset, intrinsic motivation, and sustainable autonomy. When we support this we will be helping educators become professionally driven.
Bormann, J. (2017). Professionally driven: Empower Every Educator to Redefine PD. New Berlin, WI: Bretzman Group.
-by Susan Evans, Teaching and Learning Coordinator