Monday, March 13, 2017

Model Magic for Blended Learning PD Success!

image credit: noun project
In Blended Learning in Action chapter 3, we discuss the keys to PD success, including ways in which leaders can best support teachers through blended learning implementations. One component of PD support is modeling the standards of blended learning for teachers. As school leaders think about building positive culture for blended learning, it is essential to conjure this model magic in the following areas:

If teachers are to help students gain more agency, they must get comfortable releasing control over some of the learning experiences, pace, and outcomes. School leaders should model this release of control by engaging teachers as co-creators of PD experiences. Using forms to solicit input for PD content and type of experience, creating individual pathways for teachers via a choice menu or playlist, and giving teachers control over how they participate in and demonstrate learning are all ways in which agency can be modeled.

Online collaboration is a large component of blended learning. Students share documents and project platforms and engage in an ongoing feedback loop. Leaders can model this type of collaboration by replacing standard evaluation documents with shared PD plans and observation tools in an environment like GSuite. Teams can replace dusty binders with live curriculum folders within the shared space.

Digital Learning
For teachers to understand how students can learn from digital tools, they too must engage as learners within a digital space. Designing flipped PD or rotation stations with digital content can provide experiential learning for teachers and set leaders up as lead learners who practice what they preach. Similarly discussion groups for online faculty lounges within the existing LMS can help teachers experience the online space from a learner point of view. With GSuite integration of Google Keep and add-ons such as Kaizena voice comments, school leaders can also model the integration of robust toolkits.

Authenticity is a hallmark of effective blended learning. Without it, we remain in the realm of doing the same things with new tools. We have the opportunity to hit authenticity in both the personalization and relevance of PD when we take the time to understand where teachers are in the the roadmap and the next iterative step within the zone of proximal development. We also have the chance to model authentic audience by sharing practices outside our schools via a PLN or inter-school network between schools within a district. A school-specific hashtag is a great way to share and promote innovation within schools while modeling the hallmark of authentic audience.