Differentiate Professional Development
In the fall of 2012, the district Professional Development Committee (PDC), using the Learning Forward Standards for Professional Learning (2011), studied the prerequisites for professional learning which includes the idea that educators, like all learners, learn in different ways and at different rates. Based on this idea, the PDC began to explore ways to design timely professional learning that would meet the needs of all learners including many different types of learning experiences in many different formats.
Engage Educators in Their Professional Learning
The PDC wanted to design a learning environment that was connected to district goals and made educators active partners in their own learning. Based on data collected through the district PD survey, the PDC determined that teachers needed additional support developing a personal/professional learning network to connect and communicate with other educators. To meet this need, the committee developed a learning environment where teachers could make professional learning decisions based on their needs and have avenues available to showcase their new learning.
Make Informal Learning and Reflection Part of District’s Formal PD Documents
The committee grappled with decisions like "What would the structure look like?", "How would teachers document and track their hours?", "How can we keep this from becoming a paperwork nightmare?", "How do we focus on OUTCOMES not time?" to "How do we keep the learning visible?" The goal set for the flex day was to provide time for informal learning that was self-organized, self-initiated, just-in-time and made visible to others. This goal placed teachers in charge of their learning by having them make decisions on what to learn, how they will learn it, and how they will display their learning for others to see.
Continue to Shift Mindsets
Excelsior Springs School District is shifting the mindset of effective professional learning focusing on the outcome of the learning rather than tracking a predetermined number of hours. A major emphasis of this informal, self-organized learning is on how it is made visible to others and on communicating and collaborating with other educators inside and outside the district. The end goal is to create a culture of shared learning that will positively impact teaching and learning.
Post by Cheryl Hogan | Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction
This will be a resource built by the staff for the staff to encourage integration of 21st century skills into every student's learning.