Rapidly changing issues impacting our schools and communities are driving an immediate and substantial focus on educator learning. It’s important that we implement all that we know in designing and supporting educator learning. Planning backwards, we need to begin with identifying the desired student learning outcomes. What are the most critical areas of knowledge, skills and understanding we want students to develop? With the current world events and our desired future, what are the standards most likely to create students’ current and future success?
With our outcome standards identified, our next task is to decide what students need to experience and do (learning production behaviors) that will generate the desired outcomes. Having identified the learning behaviors, teachers should be informing students, and in many cases parents, specifically how and why these behaviors will impact learning outcomes. This is the step that teaches “how to learn.” It is empowering when one knows what to do to gain a desired learning outcome.
Knowing what the learning production behaviors are, sets the stage for the teacher to design the options for ways to engage learners in those behaviors. This is labeled in the framework below as teacher actions.
A lot of educator learning is built around identifying teachers’ skills, strategies, and tools for creating the options for maximizing learning for ALL students.
A beginning design spot for teachers can be to identify students’ readiness to engage in the learning process. While some students have the necessary background in content and learning skills, others will need scaffolding to support their initial engagement. In addition, some students have passed the readiness stage and need to be engaged deeper or further from the starting gate. Next, the teacher can consider the appropriateness of students working with direct instruction or tackling learning tasks independently or collaboratively with peers. Both the learning production behaviors that are needed and the student’s individual preferences come into play. Student agency can be supported. The mix now of readiness and mode can merge with options of synchronous, asynchronous, and blended models of teaching and learning. While there is great complexity in the multiple twists that planning for learning can take, confidence can be found in knowing that when sufficient learning is not occurring, a few turns can create a new option to try. Feedback from initial plans can guide the direction of the next approach.
Professional development opportunities with coaching and professional learning communities can build the support system for educators to spend their learning time engaged in the most appropriate learning production behaviors. As school leaders, how are you designing the educator learning for your staff? Considering the changes needed to maximize student learning, which staff members are ready to learn? Do some need scaffolding? If so, how will you provide it? Are some staff advanced? If so, how can they best support others and where are the opportunities for them to advance and maybe create new breakthroughs in learning. Where does direct instruction most help and support educator learning? How can synchronous, asynchronous, and blended deliveries provide that direct instruction and create collaborative and independent learning options?
Lastly, as leaders, how are you maximizing your learning options to build your leadership capabilities?