January 17, 2023
Welcome to 2023!! As leaders we re-fresh, re-think and re-build professional learning and development with powerful, thoughtful, intentional small steps. Today’s new teachers are today’s new generation of thinkers and learners. And, because our adult learners have changed, our professional learning experiences must also change.
We are being called to create learning opportunities to prepare educators for the world of teaching today and tomorrow and the future… not yesterday.
Recently I had a phone call with Amber Bishop, Strategy Lead for Teacher Recruitment and Retention, New Brunswick Education. They are mentoring over 200 new teachers. This is a new initiative. Their context includes very few supply teachers and very little money. They want to support new teachers to have the best teaching experience possible. Inviting new teachers to connect with key ideas related to using assessment in the service of learning – a key aspect of education in New Brunswick is key.
When talking with our clients – dedicated, committed professionals – there is always a wonderful synergy of ideas. And, the result is greater than the sum of its parts. In this conversation with Amber, the innovative idea that emerged during our planning stages was to send out regular emails to new teachers – a couple a month – inviting them to view one 6-10 minute video clip from our New Teachers Foundation series focused on one aspect of assessment in the service of learning.
The plan we made was to select 24 video sections for them to view. Each video chunk would be an example of using assessment in the service of learning. We further agreed that, instead of simply giving the new teachers the clips in an email, they would be invited via email to view the selected time codes. They would access the entire 60 minute recording. It would be presented with the handouts, chat recording and other resources. This became part of our plan in the hope that as they scroll, they will notice something else of interest and then, perhaps, watch more. There would be different emails with different content for secondary than for elementary.
The new teachers would also be invited to explore their choice of two courses and download a copy of two related books – A Fresh Look at Grading and Reporting in High School and Grading, Reporting and Professional Judgement in Elementary Schools by Sandra Herbst and me, Anne Davies.
To further support this group of new teachers spread across 200 schools to deepen their connections to the educational community they have joined, we also planned that school leaders would receive the emails with the invitation to watch the brief video clips. Reasons to thoughtfully engage school leaders include keeping them in the loop about the work being done with members of their staff and sharing ‘easy-to-use’ resources that they can use to strengthen the conversation between the new teacher and their colleagues.
Educational conversations, taking place in schools, are naturally contextualized. This means, giving both leaders and teachers a ‘common viewing experience,’ creates an opportunity to have a conversation about a ‘third point’ – about something outside of both the individuals and the school and yet focused on the common enterprise of supporting every learner. As craft-knowledge informs focused conversations, increasing opportunities to share is an incredibly useful strategy and important particularly in this time and this place.
As we talked, we felt this would create an opportunity for School leaders, if they chose, to connect with the new teacher(s). Together, new and experienced educators could end up having a brief asynchronous learning experience that might fuel a 2-3 minute synchronous conversation in the hallway or on bus duty. Nothing high stakes. Just a few moments of conversation and connection.
That’s it. A conversation resulting in a practical and possible innovative plan. The materials are prepared, the time codes selected, access to the recordings enabled and everything delivered. It will be fully underway as the first emails go out in the next week or so.
This is just one recent account of how we at Connect2Learnng continue to work alongside our clients to design professional learning experiences. There are many more conversations taking place and each resulting plan unique. Each plan brings hope while providing an opportunity to learn more about the future of professional learning. When we work with clients in this way and plan the next steps that make sense in their context, the focus of the learning is more likely to be “Just Right.”
As I review the successes of the last few years, they share the following attributes. Each one involves the learners having strong elements of choice including:
- Self-directed and group learning
- In-person and virtual learning
- Synchronous and asynchronous learning
- Elements that are digital and analog.
- Using assessment in the service of learning
We specialize in generating innovative ideas to promote and support professional learning. As you can imagine, these are my favourite kinds of conversations. I love the synergy. I love the practical and possible results.
Would this personalized ideas and contextualized support be useful to you? If so, let us know. We have the staff and the resources to support you. And, consider sending us an email to enter this month’s draw.
This month’s draw is a conversation with me, Anne Davies, about a professional learning puzzle you are exploring as well as a free e-book – Leading the Way to Assessment for Learning: A Practical Guide.
To enter, please send an email to email@example.com describing the context of your professional learning and the puzzle or question you have. We will be in touch with the winner right away to set up a time to talk.
Together we can design the kind of PD that makes a difference in today’s classrooms and schools for today’s teachers and leaders.
I look forward to reading your email!