Learning from Leaders Innovation Plan Outline there you will find links to my original Innovation Plan video as well as additional resources.  Also, from a previous course, I created this 3-column table to lay out the foundation for blended learning in my classroom.  The link is provided below.  By the way, finding out my BHAG was definitely an eye-opening experience for me.  We all have those goals in the back of our heads that never reach our expectations.  But, after doing much reading, I feel that this process helped me to better understand what I need to do in my classroom every day.  I feel that this process will be extremely beneficial to my district when redefining and restructuring our professional learning.  I do know from years of experience that it takes a few years to actually go through the motions to get anything adopted in education.  Many hours are spent on planning, meeting, and discussing new ideas each year.  Then you must follow guidelines and procedures before anything is adopted.  Therefore, always begin with the end in mind.

3-Column Table and BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)

Original Professional Learning Plan Outline – almost a year ago!

Beneficial research and findings for restructuring the professional learning in our district can be found by following the link below.

The OSTRC Research

A report from the National Staff Development Council revealed some very interesting information regarding professional learning.  This report supports what we’ve been learning about the five key principles of effective professional learning.  I found it to be true in my many years of experience.   Professional learning does not allow time for teachers to learn new ways of engaging our students throughout the district.  In my opinion, professional learning needs to provide enough time to actually learn new information that we can apply in our classrooms.  Our Administration should provide additional time throughout the school year for teachers to reflect, collaborate, and share what is or isn’t working in the classroom.  Instead of having all of our professional learning occur the first two weeks before school why not spread out the professional learning throughout the school year.  Teachers are tired, we are only thinking about getting our classrooms in order, getting lesson plans ready, trying to organize textbooks or online course material, complete forms, and get back into our normal school routine.

In an effective professional learning system, school leaders learn from experts, mentors, and their peers about how to become true instructional leaders.  They work with staff members to create the culture, structures, and dispositions for continuous professional learning and create pressure and support to help teachers continuously improve by better understanding students’ learning needs, making data-driven decisions regarding content and pedagogy, and assessing students’ learning within a framework of high expectations.

Why not provide teachers with the support that is needed in our classrooms at the beginning of the new strategy that will be incorporated in our schools?  We need to know that it is ok to fail forward.  We need to know that we won’t be reprimanded if the plan doesn’t work at first.  Provide us with quality time to correct our mistakes and learn from them.  In other words, tell us in the beginning what your expectations are for us to rebuild, regroup, and correct mistakes along the way.

I’ve found that my students learn best while being actively involved in the lesson.  If you want our students to be actively involved, then model that behavior in our professional learning sessions.  Our brains react differently, we are able to retain information for longer periods of time, and we learn new creative ways to teach our students.  Keep us moving, laughing, thinking, working with teachers that teach subjects like ours.  I don’t find the activity beneficial to pair me up with a Kindergarten teacher since I teach high school technology.

Modeling a content-specific activity or new practice is extremely beneficial in learning.  Not only for our students but for our staff as well.  When we sit for three hours in the auditorium without a break is not the best way to learn a new idea.  When I sit through professional learning sessions, I always watch how the presenter moves around the room, I watch for the moments when humor is involved, I watch the other teachers around the room disengaging, I watch the presentations, wait for the perfect timing with music or a video, and I watch their teaching style.  Did the speaker ask too many irrelevant questions?  Did the speaker read the entire presentation that was shown word for word?  What kind of support can I find to better understand the new idea?

Finally, I’m wondering if this information is beneficial to me and my specific line of teaching or is it something that I will never use in my classroom.  How can I use this information and can I use it on day one of school?  I do understand that skills like classroom management are beneficial to all teachers, but make it grade-level specific.  Let us have the freedom to choose which sessions we can attend.  I may not need a refresher course on our e-mail system, but I might be interested in going to the session on dealing with special needs students in the computer lab.  Also, I may be interested in the session on how to keep healthy throughout the year but it might conflict with another session that I’d like to attend.

I’m asking for the professional learning on my campus to be ongoing throughout the year.  Maybe provide a substitute once per six weeks for a group of teachers to meet during the school day and collaborate.  Assign small teams of teachers who teach in the same field to meet during school on a Wednesday with the teams being no more than four teachers.  Substitutes are easier to find on Wednesdays and teachers aren’t burned out by Wednesday.

Recently, I had a phone conversation with my superintendent and offered to serve on a committee to foster collaboration, enhance technology, and offer suggestions for professional development.  I’m hoping that I will be selected to serve on a committee to update our professional development.  All I can do is offer my assistance, provide some research, and wait patiently for changes to be made throughout the district.  I truly don’t know who will lead the components necessary to move our program forward.  Hopefully, it will be forward thinkers who can think out of the box and accept change in this digital age.

Currently, my main audiences are my students in tenth through twelfth grades.  Hopefully, my future audience will be our faculty and staff on my campus.  Ultimately, the entire district will make the shift to reaching out to the entire campuses and touch the lives of every educator in our district.  I don’t know what the particular needs are of other campuses, but I definitely want to be a part of the blended learning approach on the high school campus and in professional development for the district.

Most of our professional learning funding is received from grants.  Grants take time to create and get approved.  I’m sure that by December of this year, our Administrators will begin on writing grants for the next school year.  I’m going to provide my research and assistance before December in hopes of receiving grants that are applicable to our teacher’s and student’s needs.  All of the readings required in this online course are definitely beneficial to our district’s growth to provide the needs of our students.  Honestly, I don’t think I can handle one more thing on my plate.  But, I’ll fight through the whirlwind because our kids deserve a first-class education.  Our teachers deserve support and encouragement from the community and administration.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to offer support, encouragement, and facts that will move our professional learning to the next level.

The best modeling of professional learning that I think I’ve ever experienced is the Master’s Degree program at Lamar University.  I am currently enrolled in The Digital Learning and Leading degree offered online through Lamar Universty in Beaumont.  I feel that I can share my findings, other cohorts research, and professor’s website for additional information that will prove we need a change in professional learning in our district.  I’ve already shared some of my findings on Blended Learning with other teachers in my building and I have two that are willing to support me and join on my journey to incorporate Blended Learning in our classrooms.  Fortunately, both of these teachers are back this year and are still ready to assist me with my plan to submit to our administrators.  One of the instructors is a welding teacher and he teaches night classes at a community college in town.  He already uses the blended method of teaching welding through Blackboard and he really wants to be able to use this model in his classroom at the high school.

I took a field trip to Lamar with a group of students last year.  One of my coworkers also took a group of his students with me.  Dr. Thibodeaux presented an awesome presentation about online learning.  She was so professional, motivational, and modeled a perfect way to be an online instructor.  She was patient, kind, and presented the information in an orderly manner.   She ignited a fire in our students and in us to pursue online learning.

I feel that I’ve broken the ice with my administrators, now just to pull everything together and present my idea through the proper chain of command.  Our new Superintendent seems to be open to innovative ideas and changing lives one student, one teacher, one parent at a time.  Now the real work begins in obtaining funding and resources to purchase Blackboard for the district.

References

Wei, R. C., Darling-Hammond, L., Andree, A., Richardson, N., & Orphanos, S. (2009). Professional Learning in the Learning Profession: A Status Report on Teacher Development in the U.S. and Abroad. Technical Report. National Staff Development Council. Retrieved from http://www.ostrc.org/docs/document_library/ppd/Professionalism/Professional%20Learning%20in%20the%20Learning%20Profession.pdf.