Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Building better learning experiences

Creating professional development is actually a thing that I love. Lesson planning in general I adore - I couldn't wait to get through lessons to get to the other side to reflect on that lesson and plan
another. Like most teachers I'm also an "lightbulb moment" junkie - I live for those times when I can see my student gets it. 

That I love these things I suppose isn't surprising since I am a facilitator, one who is supposed to be helping others define and reach their goals. Lots of room for planning and lightbulbs. I have led or helped to lead numerous professional developments, but most have been face to face. Face to face classes are different. I have the ability to gauge the room, capitalize on teachable moments, crack a joke when things are falling flat, or totally scrap the plan and fly by the seat of my pants. I must admit though, that most of my courses were sit and "git" (as we say in Texas), but that is for another post.

Online courses are different. I have never before task analyzed like I have for creating this course. And I didn't even build the course from scratch, I had an example to work from. In fact, when I saw the example course I thought the whole process would be easy, but as I began to work and build, I quickly learned that the journey would not be short. The more I worked, the more there was to work on. One idea would lead to another, and that one would lead to another. Just when I felt like I "had it", my director and editor would come back with questions and ideas that would lead me down another path.

We knew that we didn't want this professional learning to be one size fits all, and we knew that we didn't want it to be a bunch of technical learning with no tie to the classroom.

I don't know if we came up with something that will work, but it is something that is very different from anything that I have made before.

The technical part is there - lots and lots of practical how to in the course. But that is just for reference. The learning part is how it ties to the classroom. There are trails to take up the mountain. There are suggested learning points along the way - but the summit is using the tool with students. I love it. Learning how a fork works is great - but learning how to put the fork
to use in a meaningful way - to nourish your body, that's where the magic happens. All tools are just tools until you learn how to make them meaningful.

Practice, reflect, and make a plan for the next steps - that is what this professional development is built on. I think that process will become the basis for most of my staff development - practice, reflect and  make a plan for the next steps. Repeat. Learning never stops.

I'm still refining, but I'm so excited to see what happens. If this chance for teachers to look at professional learning differently makes a difference in their classrooms. I welcome feedback - especially light bulb moments!



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