It all started when myself and the Globally Minded Counsellor sat down and decided we needed to shake up the model of professional development happening at our school. The current model was not bad by any means – we used lots of visible thinking routines, always asked staff for feedback about how we could improve and provided choice as often as possible…
But when we asked ourself the question “Who owns their learning?” we both knew the answer was “We do.” And that’s what we wanted to change. We wanted to let go of our control, so that our staff was able to take ownership for their own learning and we thought our upcoming half day presented the perfect opportunity!
Here’s how it went…
Step one – getting the leadership team on board
We organized an inquiry into professional development and invited the whole leadership team. We started with a provocation. We projected a couple of Profressional Development memes and reflected upon our reactions, thoughts, connections, hopes and fears. Then we shared what we thought with one another.
Next, we each completed an inquiry self-assessment, where all of the words students had been replaced with teachers and all the words teacher had been replaced with leadership. We each reflected on how inquiry-based our professional development had been so far this year and then we shared our thoughts with one another.
Then, we inquired into what other schools around the world were doing and saying about professional development. We used this collection of resources and the Visible Thinking Routine Connect-Extend-Challenge to organize our thinking.
After that, we completed a Back to the Future Protocol to help us create a shared vision of where we want to be by the end of the year and how we are going to get there.
Finally, to ensure there was no secret
teacher leadership business, we posted all of our thinking on the bulletin board in our multipurpose room for the whole staff to see.
Step two – getting staff buy in
Now it was time to start disrupting our staff’s thinking about professional development. So we used a divisional staff meeting – where all 125 staff were present – to inquire into 21st Century professional learning.
We started by projecting the same memes to provoke thinking and reactions about PD. We built in time for everyone to discuss their connections, reactions and thoughts with one another.
Then, we were vulnerable and transparent with the staff. We said, “If any of you feel this way about our professional development, that is a clue for us – as a leadership team – that we are doing something wrong. Our goal is to work together as a staff to make sure none of us feel this way about our upcoming half day on February 2nd. In order to accomplish this we need to start by placing the ownership for your own learning back in your hands.”
As a first step down that path, we wanted to tune into what our staff already knew about 21st C professional learning. So we asked these three questions:
What are 21st C educators learning about?
How are 21st C educators learning?
What ways are 21st C educators sharing their learning with others?
We invited everyone to either post their thinking on to this online anchor chart or the paper anchor charts posted around the room.
Then, to challenge our thinking and broaden our perspective, we all explored this collection of resources to see what other schools are doing. We then added our discoveries to the same anchor charts.
Finally, we had everyone create a learning wish list of things they would want to learn about if they had the time.
Step 3 – Planning in response to learning
Now it was time to start putting together a structure for our upcoming half day that would support personalized, professional learning for all of our staff. But we wanted to ensure that the structure would represent everyone’s learning interests and preferences. So instead of trying to anticipate what kind of learning the staff wanted… we simply asked them.
Each and every person on our staff completed a learning preferences form – principals, teachers, TAs, counsellors, coordinators, and coaches alike.
Then came the fun part! Our leadership team took all 125 learning preference forms and started looking for trends to help us build a half day structure that would support everyone’s personalized professional learning.
Now we’re at the stage of finalizing the structure for the half day. We plan to share that with staff on Sunday to allow everyone to have a few days to think about how they want to spend their half day of personalized professional learning on Tuesday, February 2nd.
Then we jump in with both feet!
Wish us luck. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
It was definitely a very successful approach to professional learning from my point of view:) thanks to you all our lovely leadership team:)
It’s easy to structure a great day of learning, when you work with such passionate and motived learners!