Thursday, October 14, 2010

Class Poll: How Do You Want To Learn Today?

My class consists of 70+ certificated staff members. Several of them opened the school almost 30 years ago. One was hired last week. In terms of experience they are a heterogeneous group. When asked, “What do you want to learn today?” their answers are as diverse as their experiences.

My job, as the instructional coach, is to research, design and facilitate professional learning at Neptune Beach Elementary. We are part of the Learning Forward Learning School Alliance (LSA). We believe collaborative professional learning, teamwork, and problem solving are keys to school improvement.
LSA members: 
  • Strengthen school and district culture to focus on educator and student learning;
  • Initiate, refine, or expand the use of collaborative professional learning within your school;
  • Explore ways to evaluate the effectiveness of collaboration within your school; and
  • Develop leaders within your schools to facilitate the transition to a learning school.
Teachers and principals will receive training, coaching, and facilitation to advance their skills in applying the Learning Forward Learning School principles and practices. LSA members will learn together in their own schools, with other schools through webinars and facilitated conversations, and at meetings held at Learning Forward conferences. They will openly share their goals, their progress, and -- over time -- their results.
When people use the term “professional learning” or “ professional development,” they can refer to traditional structures such as a workshop or a conference. It also includes collaborative learning cycles (CLC) among members of a grade level or content team in the school setting. Professional development, however, can also occur in informal constructs such as conversation among colleagues, independent reading and research, observation in another classroom, joining a personal learning network (PLN) on Twitter, or other learning from a peer.

Every year we assess our professional learning using the Standards for Staff Development Assessment Inventory (SAI). Historically we have scored the lowest on question 29: We observe each others classroom instruction as one way to improve our teaching. The poll tells us the teachers want to learn from each other in their own classrooms. This year we designed a number of professional learning activities that include at least one out of every five hours observing in a classroom.

Sometimes a poll tells you more about the conditions a learner desires, how they want to learn, instead of what they want to learn. What you do with the information makes all the difference!


  1. What a great post. I have experienced just the opposite, being told what to learn and how. Unfortunately this is too prevalent in education. In my current position we never take the time to see the what or the how regarding professional development as a district. I am pleased to say my coaches are focusing on the how this year. Hopefully it will make all the difference.

  2. I think teachers feel validated and empowered when their opinions are heard. It sounds like your teachers have some great PD in store this year!

  3. Thank you for commenting on my blog. The important message of what we provide in professional development can be lost if the intended recipient never acquires or applies the learning. I appreciate the positive comments!