Learn about the benefits of giving both choice and voice to teacher for their personalized professional development.

Schools are realizing that teachers learn best when choice and voice are added to the mix. In fact, choice and voice are two of the 7 partnership principles that many in coaching roles adhere to. The Partnership Principles were designed by researcher and author, Jim Knight. They are outlined in the book Instructional Coaching: A Partnership Approach to Improving Instruction. The principles include:

  • Equality: Instructional coaches and teachers are equal partners
  • Choice: Teachers should have choice regarding what and how they learn.
  • Voice: Professional learning should empower and respect the voices of teachers.
  • Dialogue: Professional learning should enable authentic dialogue.
  • Reflection: Reflection is an integral part of professional learning.
  • Praxis: Teachers should apply their learning to their real-life practice as they are learning.
  • Reciprocity: Instructional coaches should expect to get as much as they give.

Food Speaks All Languages

Are you an instructional coach? A technology coach? A technology integrationist? A professional development provider? No matter the role, one thing is true…food speaks volumes! Who doesn’t love to have a little snack when learning something new?

The Instructional Coach team in the Montgomery Independent School District in Montgomery, TX, consisting of Amy Storer, Kristin Sissom, Dannette Key, Stephanie Lowry and Leah Taska, have learned quickly in their first year that food is a great motivator. They have successfully used themes (with food & beverages) to invite teachers to explore various high interest topics. “Cookies with Your Coach” and “Cocoa with Your Coach” both drew large groups of teachers willing to learn new ideas and collaborate. Amy shared, “The sessions are always optional. Teachers can choose if the topic is something they want to learn about right now. Giving teachers voice and choice in their professional development has been appreciated and the impact has reached the classroom.”

Why is Personalized Professional Learning?

Thank you for sharing this image @reeder_cassie and cfisdEducators strive to differentiate the learning in their classrooms, but are often expected to sit and learn the same exact content when it comes to their own professional development. Personalized professional learning is taking many forms for today’s educators. Some educators independently personalize their learning while many schools, like Montgomery Intermediate School, are realizing that teachers need differentiated, collaborative and job-embedded personalized learning experiences.

Personalized Professional Learning Ideas

  1. Take part in a Twitter Chat
    Everyone has a favorite, but a few to check out include #personalizedpd or #educoach. Visit the vast number of Twitter Chats available to educators on the Participate site.
  2. Attend an EdCamp
    These offer an organic, participant-driven professional learning experience for educators across country and world-wide! Chances are there is one close to you!
  3. Grow your own Meet-Ups
    You may choose to do this in person, on apps like Voxer, on Facebook, or on Twitter to name a few.
  4. Plan a Time
    Develop time during the school day, or after school, for teachers to explore using Cookies with Your Coach, Cocoa with Your Coach, or any other Coach’s Café type idea.
  5. Plan for a Personalized Learning Day
    Use ideas from the ASCD Edge Articles: Personalized Professional Development by Tiffany Della Vedova.
  6. Build on your Personalized Learning with Books
    Personalized PD: Flipping your Professional Development by Jason Bretzmann is a good one.

Possible Topic Ideas

Technology tools to integrate into the classroom are often good for exploration. Teachers need time to learn the tools in non-threatening manner. Partnering with a coach, other colleagues and including a tasty treat can be a great combination. Allow the learning to be organic and attuned to individual needs rather than presentation style.

Some topic ideas include:

ClassFlow: Whether teachers are learning ClassFlow for the first time or reviewing recent updates, hands-on exploration is always welcomed by teachers.

Student or Teacher Blogging: Have teachers expressed an interest in learning how to set up a blog for themselves or help their students start a blog? Are there teachers already on staff having success with blogging? Invite them to assist with the session. Learning from colleagues is a great way to build a collaborative community. Check out the Introduction to Student Blogging Lesson in the ClassFlow Marketplace. If you are ready to take your blogging to the next step, consider sharing with ClassFlow. We’re always looking for teachers with ideas to share.

Donors Choose: Donors Choose is an excellent way for teachers and schools to obtain resources for their classrooms. Some teachers pick up the process of creating projects quite easily and others can be intimidated. Gathering teachers together to learn the process, bounce ideas off of each other and even develop group projects can ease initial fears of learning how to secure some additional funding.

Your Schools Focus Areas: We know that learning new ideas take time to fully implement into classrooms. Teachers need lots of exploration and time to try out their ideas. Any schoolwide focus area can lend itself to working alongside a school instructional coach, technology coach, administrator, professional development provider, or simply groups of teachers.

Honoring the individual needs of teachers, allowing them to learn with others in relaxed atmospheres and even providing a few treats along the way are a recipe for success when it comes to personalized professional learning.

What are your tips and tricks for making professional and personalized learning successful. Share with us in the blog comments.


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Kathy Perret