April 19, 2021

Choose Your Own Adventure – A Lesson in Professional Learning

The Big TentEditors Note: The email address shared by Oceanside is for their teachers. If you have any questions about the content shared in this blog, please leave a comment below.

It all started with a chignon. And after that awkward moment passed, the seeds for a new professional learning plan were sown, as was the start of a relationship that would be critical to bringing this comprehensive plan to life in our school community.

Last spring, we had the opportunity to participate in a full-day workshop hosted by Teaching Channel and led by their CAO Erika Andrew, and several NBCT teachers from our school district. The goal was to learn more about Teaching Channel Teams, and to think about ways we could utilize the platform to enhance teaching and learning in the Oceanside School District.

The opening activity found us trying to make a chignon, or a fancy French bun, with my hair and whatever materials we could locate in the room. While this was not the most comfortable activity for Jason, and he turned over the actual hair rearranging duties to other members of our group, we did manage to get the job done and figure out how to successfully collaborate utilizing some of the key aspects of the Theory of Professional Learning Framework. And I didn’t look half bad either! Later on in the session, we were given the opportunity to really brainstorm about how we could adopt the Teams model for professional learning and develop a workable plan for Oceanside. We came up with a plan that will allow teachers to learn a lot from each other, mostly in the comfort of their pajamas! Can’t beat that.

The theme of our plan, which was borne on that day and took many weeks of collaboration to bring to fruition, is “choose your own adventure.” And while some have said that our definition of adventure is very sad, this plan is not unlike those special books that were a staple of most of our childhoods — minus the dragons that need slaying or the magical worlds that can be found inside the back of a closet.

Nevertheless, at this stage of our lives, effective professional learning that enables teachers to expand their instructional repertoire is pretty exciting. And the best part is that the cooperation of a teacher (Jason) and an administrator (Beth) in the development of this plan is really symbolic of how building trust and community in the best interest of students is the only way to be an effective educator these days. And better yet, our plan supports the building of trust and community among teachers of all grades and subjects. Teams enables districts to reduce the obstacles to collaborative relationships that are created by natural divisions in grade levels, subject areas, or in a district of our size, simple geography.

The two professional learning “choose your own adventure” options being offered to Oceanside teachers for their non-mandated hours this year, is either a Novice 101 course or the Advanced 201 option.

sample-pdp-plan

Based on teachers’ familiarity with Teaching Channel and their comfort level with recording their own teaching, they can choose the plan that best meets their needs. Teachers will form a team (ideally three to six teachers) and register as a group. Think of it as a collegial circle 2.0. You can further explore the variations in our two options by reviewing the video and all of the documents here.

Our hope is that teachers will embrace something new, learn from one another, and bring back fresh ideas both from the extensive video library that Teaching Channel provides, as well as from the videos and insights of their colleagues. So while it all started with a chignon, we are hoping the adventure ends with a stronger, more collaborative, and interconnected Oceanside teaching community.

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