Professional Learning

Four Ways to Transform the Professional Learning Experience

 //  Feb 19, 2019

Four Ways to Transform the Professional Learning Experience

While schools and districts are making professional learning plans for the remainder of this year and next, there are many things to consider around how these moments are supporting educators.

In the February 2019 issue of Language Magazine, Pam Allyn, Senior Vice President, Innovation & Development, Scholastic Education, and Dr. Carol Chanter, Senior Vice President, Professional Learning Services, Scholastic Education, outlined four ways to cultivate learning experiences for educators that are both effective and enjoyable.

Below is an excerpt from the article which highlights the impact of professional learning opportunities that are blended, collaborative, personalized, and ongoing. You can read the full-length article, here.


Changing It Up

Pam Allyn and Carol Chanter offer four ways to transform the professional learning experience

“So many of the teachers in my large district need more professional support than I can give them on any given day, and I have new teachers coming in all the time.”

This was what rested most heavily on the mind of a superintendent in terms of worry about his leadership of a school district we recently visited.

We know this is true for many administrators across the country. And beyond that, a pressing question is how to differentiate professional learning in exactly the way we hope to do for our students. How can we deliver targeted support for all teachers while leveraging the wide variety of their expertise and knowledge? How can we empower teachers to seek out exactly what they need or want to know more about? How can we retain great teachers and coach them so that their ongoing learning feels like a perk of the work they do, and not a mandate? As professional learning techniques continue to evolve, technology options expand, and we enter a new era in which everyone, including families and educators, is viewed as a learner, the questions come fast and furious. In this spirit, we posit that there are four major ways to support effective, powerful, and lasting professional learning experiences for all educators.

1. Blend it

A common challenge we hear from teachers, parents, students, and administrators is the difficulty in teachers leaving their classrooms during the school day for professional learning. Everyone knows professional learning is critically important, but this is a tough sticking point. This new era of professional learning gives us the opportunity to innovate what blended learning can look like for educators. There is no question that face-to-face learning is valuable, but we also know that today learning can be anywhere. The palm of a hand is now an opportunity for quick bites of knowledge or more in-depth articles and videos. A mix of face-to-face learning with online learning is a practical blend that helps to accommodate scheduling conflicts. To create the ideal scenario for your school or district, work with your professional development partner to customize your solution so that your teams are together for the kind of whole-group learning from which everyone can benefit, and individual time is spent tailored. 

Focus face-to-face learning on new initiatives, new information, or timely topics such as technology, the latest developments in ESSA, or other new requirements. Additionally, whole-group professional learning can be very effective when you want to strengthen the school or district community and establish a “movement,” similar to a school assembly. But for the quieter work of building technical knowledge on everything from classroom management skills to new systems or new strategies, this can be done virtually in moments when teachers can devote their full attention to their learning and feel a growing sense of agency over the time and space to do it.

This excerpt is from the February 2019 issue of Language Magazine printed with permission from Language Magazine.