Saturday, June 8, 2013

Seizing the moment: Transforming Professional Learning

I recently read a report in the Implementing the Common Core Standards (ICCS) newsletter from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). This report was released by Learning Forward and was called:

Click here to read the article

The report was about the challenging road ahead as schools implement the Common Core State Standards. Change is not easy, principals and school district leaders need to focus teacher professional learning to support teachers and help change mindsets about what classroom environments look like and how teachers and students perform at school.  

Two statements that really caught my eye:

This is key if we are to change education to meet the learning needs of students today.  If students need to interact with technology in meaningful ways to improve learning, then teachers must engage in these activities as well.  Throwing technology and software at educators and expecting it be effectively implemented doesn't work.  Teachers are learners too and this needs to be considered in professional learning environments.  

My three suggestions for addressing the technology learning that must take place with teachers before Common Core State Standards can effectively be implemented in schools:
girl with technology
  1. Differentiate - Teachers are at varying levels of comfort and competency with technology, don't put all of them in the same room to learn the same thing.  Providing access to "just in time" learning opportunities maximizes application of new learning.
  2. Personalize - We learn best when we are interested in something, let teachers choose what they want to learn and when they want to learn it. Personal learning plans let teachers set goals for their learning that can be monitored by administration for progress and support.
  3. Integrate - Stop offering technology trainings! Make sure technology is integrated into all professional learning environments.  Don't isolate technology...integrate it! Leading a session about how to teach students to write arguments to support claims? Then show teachers how students can annotate text using web tools like Google Docs and share their writing with peers for collaboration and discussion.
If we expect students to create, communicate, collaborate and think critically with web tools and technology devices then we need to start with district administration.  If district leaders provide communications and collaborative workshops to site administrators with tools like Google +, Google Docs, Twitter, Learning Management Systems, blogs and YouTube then principals will begin using these same tools to train and support teachers.  As teachers become more comfortable with technology as part of job embedded professional learning, then it will become part of how they teach.  We have to seize the moment, start at the top, and step out of our comfort zone so that student learning environments truly prepare our kids for college and career.