The word “embedded” means different things to different people. To be clear, here is what we mean in the context of effective professional development:
User support is intrinsic to the design of our tools and curricular materials. Often teacher guides are written as an afterthought, and are sold separately for a reason. With our materials, the support is built right in. It’s like having a “silent coach” sitting alongside you. And, nothing about this guidance is rote or formulaic:
• Mental, material and multifaceted preparation guidelines (The How)
• Group design and workflow possibilities (The How)
• Differentiation moments for learners (The How)
• Rationales for learning sequences, i.e., why a flipped classroom approach would not work well in a given situation. (The Why)
• Prompts for clear, strategic decision-making on the part of the teacher or learner (The Why)
• Connections to the essential question, enduring understanding, or big idea (The So What?)
• Connections to ongoing teacher and learner development (The So What?)
• What if we built ample practice time into the development plan?
• What if our end game was to get people to break apart and reinvent the very structures we are modeling today?
• What if we trust what we know from the research: that self-assessment and peer assessment models are inherently more powerful than any top-down approach?
• Heck—what if we trusted the learner to figure out how they learn best?
17 years ago we asked ourselves: what if these questions underscored the ways in which we enact professional development?
• Immersive, engaging experiences that give participants agency in
their own learning:
• “[The facilitation was] very well-prepared, very well thought-out, friendly, fun, clear, pushed us as adult learners but made it easy to connect to/reflect on how we would use the same strategies with students. In a word, EXCELLENT!” –Elementary School Teacher, Atlanta, Georgia
• Strategies that require minimal orientation yet bridge research and practice:
• “I had immediate success with my ability to formatively assess for student understanding.” —Concept Construxions® User & Middle School Science Teacher, New York City
• Powerful systems that deliver, repeatedly, regardless of setting:
• “If I move to a school that doesn’t have Concept Construxions®, I’ll buy it for myself. It’s that powerful.” –High School Special Needs Educator, Oakland, CA
When combined with other types of support inside of a larger strategic plan for professional development, virtual formats makes a lot of sense. We:
• Deliver curated content that is free on the Web, and activities to go with them! Get free library access and enjoy these virtual “shipments.”
• Craft “just-in-time” virtual sessions to address immediate PD needs.
• Implement cloud-based sharing environments to marry virtual meetings and ongoing documentation of the work.
Sometimes it’s more efficient to ramp up in a face-to-face setting. Since travel costs are high, and since we are committed to reducing our carbon footprint, we:
• Encourage cost-sharing across schools in the same region.
• Blend virtual and face-to-face formats at times when establishing a positive culture and maintain momentum are paramount.
Who is supporting the leaders? We are! Leaders are often stretched thin and expected to provide professional development themselves. We’ve been there. To lend a hand, we:
• Equip instructional leaders with thought-provoking, high-interest materials for faculty meetings and professional learning communities. Get free library access and login regularly to obtain timely resources.
• Collaborate with leaders to design professional development that dovetails existing organization-wide initiatives.
• Utilize train-the-trainer models to build capacity and take professional development to scale.
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