One of my favorite parts of my job is designing professional learning days for my school. We have them monthly and the next one is just one week away… and although it’s only one week away, we have been planning it for months. In June, after the teachers leave, our team of directors draft goals for the following year. Our goals are connected to our strategic planning which is broken into short and long term goals. We reflect on the standards http://learningforward.org/standards-for-professional-learning#.Vo1A2LYrKUk and ask ourselves questions like:
- What do our students need?
- What do our teachers need?
- How can we design a learning experience that directly connects the goals and outcomes with the work that our teachers are doing?
- What leadership do we need to foster for this goal to be achieved?
- What resources do we have to support the growth and development of this goal?
- How are we going to carve out collaborative learning time for our teachers to truly own and embrace this goal?
- What data do we have to support our actions, our motivations, or desired outcomes?
- How are we going to monitor and measure this goal?
- How are we going to reflect and be metacognitive of this goal?
- How will know if we achieved the desired outcome?
- How will we support our teachers implementation of the goal?
- How will we know that our goals have positively impacted student learning?
Then blissful summer comes and we let our goals sink in and resonate with us, and when we come back in August, we revise if necessary. Once we have the final goals, we break them down into manageable chunks and map out how to share, develop, implement, and reflect on the goals throughout the year. We have a professional learning day once a month. In August, before the teachers come back, we map out the goals of each professional learning day to make sure that our plans align with our desired outcomes. As soon as one professional learning day is finished, we use the teacher feedback and reflections to start honing and developing the next professional learning day, always cognizant of our global goals. Once we send out the schedule for the day, including times, breakout sessions, lunch, and carefully designed reflections at the end of the day, it is real and finally that joyous time again! And so it is with great delight that I say, “Yay! It’s Professional Learning Day!”
After the reflections are collected, I reach another favorite part of my job! We carefully read the teachers’ reflections and diligently use them to guide us in our ongoing support for our teachers. And so, for me, professional learning isn’t just one day a month. It is a continuous cycle of setting strategic goals, designing learning opportunities, learning, and implementing initiatives to achieve said goals; and then, it’s time for reflection, which will guide us to ongoing support. Professional learning is more than just “one and done,” it is about a conscious and continual process to better reach the needs of our students.
So, when your next professional learning day arrives, I hope you take the opportunity to make the most of it! Enjoy it. Let it in! And then, embrace the learning process through ongoing support.
As a “professional-learning-self-proclaimed-nerd” and always open to new and better ideas to improve learning, I would love to know:
For those who plan professional learning:
- How do you design and prepare for your professional learning days?
- How do you get the most of your professional learning days?
- How do you ensure that your professional learning experiences matter and truly impact student learning?
- How do you keep the energy and focus from the professional learning day throughout the year?
- How do you design continuous professional learning?
For those who receive the professional learning:
- What makes professional meaningful for you?
- What format of professional learning do you like best?
- How do you keep the learning and excitement of the objectives of a professional learning day ongoing?
Chat with me via this blog or connect with me on twitter @trotter_sara.