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Learning Forward 2015 Annual Conference

The Learning Forward 2015 Conference was an opportunity to focus on the advances of educator professional learning to ultimately improve student success.  Many of the sessions I attended revolved around the strengthening of professional learning and collaborative teams.  Some of the highlights include:

Tools and Strategies for Collaborative Teams
The purpose and work of a collaborative team in a PLC is to problem solve, critically think, build capacity with all team members to efficiently and effectively teach subject matters that benefit learners and achieve learning outcomes.  Some strategies shared for a successful collaborative team include:

Strategies for Moving Forward Tools or Resources
  • Define the work of a collaborative team by identifying specific tasks that teams complete
  • Set norms and decide on how norms will be reinforced
  • Build the "why" for the work
  • Show videos/examples of what collaborative team work looks like and what it doesn't look like
  • Identify a facilitator and provide training
  • Provide samples of agenda templates to structure work

Clarifying the Work
Strategies for Moving Forward Tools or Resources
  • Provide a bank of and practice using protocols
  • Craft or refine the specific student learning goals to make them high impact
  • Provide tools for creating common assessments
  • Provide tools and structures for effective data analysis
  • Increase collaboration by ensuring that everyone takes responsibility for getting the work done
  • Review and revise norms as needed

Deepening the Work
Strategies for Moving Forward Tools or Resources
  • Facilitate a team's efforts to toward action research projects
  • Create opportunities for teachers to observe one another
  • Facilitate opportunities for cross-team conversations to spread practices and perspectives
  • Share leadership on teams: rotate the facilitator role
  • Make decisions as a team around enrichment and remediation

Seven Stages of Collaborative Teams
As collaborative teams progress they reflect the characteristic in these seven stages.
Click to enlarge

Gamifying Professional Learning
The following infographic demonstrates the declining feeling of engagement as we progress from child to adult.

Gamifying adult professional learning is a strategy to increase engagement not only in children, but also adults as well.  The gamifying strategy meets the four attributes of quality learning environments.
Learner Centered
  • learn from own (best) practice;
  • teacher "action" research;
  • past deliberate learning (PL, supervision, reading, watching, mentoring etc.)
Knowledge Centered
  • pedagogy & content knowledge (PCK);
  • subject matter knowledge & expertise;
  • valuing adult as learner & using technology to access learning opportunities
Assessment Centered
  • test understanding;
  • receive feedback;
  • recursive & multiple opportunities.
Community Centered Environments
  • communities of practice;
  • social in nature;
  • collaborative peer relationships;
  • educational research & practice.

Examples of Gamfying Adult Professional Development
  1. Bi-weekly Google Proficiency Challenge - Increased teacher Google app proficiency through weekly activities placed in schools newsletter.  All those who successfully completed the activity were entered to win a $25 gift card.
  2. Newington Ninjas – Pay teachers to be certified Google educators who then train other teachers.
  3. House Party – During the summer break teachers gather 5 of their colleagues to continue learning about Google apps.  School provides the SME and refreshments .
  4. Duck Recognition – After teachers successfully participate in a set number of professional development opportunities they receive a rubber duck.  At the end of the school year they have a rubber duck race in nearby river.  The winner of the race receives their choice of professional development paid by the school. 


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