Meeting the needs of all learners. What a dreamy statement.
Most of those who step into education do so for that specific mission – to reach and teach every learner that walks into our classrooms.
A large part of accomplishing, or attempting to accomplish this task, starts with understanding how to do it. For this sort of support, most teachers turn to professional development opportunities provided by their school building or district.
While many of these events, courses, and workshops are well intentioned, it was often my experience that many fell flat of the mark I was trying to reach and didn’t necessarily leave me with a strategy or idea that I could take and use right away.
That was until I discovered the Teacher Leader Cohort, now known as the Engaging Educator Cohort.
This cohort not only inspired me to explore ways to transform my teaching practice but also motivated me to iterate and design a personalized teacher PD program that was sustainable and engaging.
How I Began my Journey to Personalized PD
Hello, I’m Pam. I’m currently an ed tech consultant, but not too long ago, I was an elementary teacher who was constantly looking for inspiring professional learning opportunities.
This led me to begin the exciting journey of integrating purposeful technology into my 4th, then 5th grade classroom which eventually propelled me into the next professional position of becoming an innovation and technology specialist and coach.
While my role changed slightly, the mission never did.
Meet the needs of every learner you work with and hustle to seek and design personalized learning opportunities for each person. No big deal.
Innovator Pathways: A Sustainable & Personalized Teacher PD Program
By the fall of 2017, I found myself on one of the most purposeful journeys I had ever been a part of in my education career.
I had designed a complete personalized PD program for educators in the school district in which I was working. This program met their specific needs and also offered opportunities to, “level up” and take their own professional learning to the next level based on their interests.
This program, called “Innovator Pathways”, was a culmination of my learning journey through the Engaging Educator Cohort (formerly known as Teacher Leader Cohort).
Throughout the cohort, I was invited to explore six elements of learning, engage with and practice key features of each, and then synthesize my learning in a digital portfolio created with Google Sites.
The steps that the instructors in our cohort outlined were extremely beneficial as I worked to apply my learning while designing Innovator Pathways.
Throughout the process of designing this program, I worked to:
- Empower teachers by providing voice and choice to promote student agency in what they learned, how they learned and when they accessed materials
- Design inspiring spaces by creating a website, resources and promotional materials that engaged learners and were also easy to navigate
- Promote 21st century learning by inviting all educators to document their journey in their own digital portfolio which would then be used to demonstrate and teach students to create a portfolio of their own
- Engage the community by including time and space to celebrate educator success publicly on our website and during various staff meetings throughout the year
- Model the process in order to encourage and foster teachers to transfer this learning to their students, further (supporting) our 21st century learning and digital portfolio initiatives
Because of my participation in the Engaging Educator Cohort, I was able to see how the instructors designed materials that were engaging, provided time and space for exploration and reflection, as well as encouraged communication and collaboration through purposeful activities and bringing together participants within the cohort.
Feeling safe to try, measure success or failure, and try again in a community of other adult learners who provided rich feedback and encouragement, was a great part of my own success as an innovation and technology coach.
Being welcomed into that type of learning environment inspired me to replicate that for the teachers I was working with.
Taking the step to engage in a cohort of like-minded educators was one of the best career moves I’ve ever made.
I pushed myself outside of my own comfort zone to explore other ways of designing learning opportunities, I listened to other educators’ realities and experiences and welcomed the support of facilitators who encouraged risk taking and deep diving into learner centered approaches. This ultimately had a very positive trickle down impact on students in the district.
If you’re reading this, I hope you’re feeling inspired.
If you’ve been searching for a professional learning option that provides voice, choice and student agency, then I encourage you to enroll in the upcoming Engaging Educator Cohort, brought to you by the Designed for Learning Team.
I promise that this will be one of the best career moves that you’ll ever make and it will not only benefit you professionally but will impact students who have the pleasure of having you as their teacher for years to come.
LOOKING FOR MORE?
- Ready to get the support you need to design sustainable and personalized teacher PD program? Learn more about the Engaging Educator Cohort here.
- Apply to receive up to $10,000 in Free PD
- Free Workshop – Engaging All Learners in a Blended Model