Friday, February 27, 2015

A Framework for Meaningful Professional Learning

I am always looking to improve our professional learning processes for teachers.  I believe we have made immense progress under our recent changes to our professional learning.  Learning Forward continues to produce great work on this topic.  I have been reading Designing Schools for Meaningful Professional Learning by Janice Bradley. Bradley recommends that we transform traditional sit-and-git professional development into job embedded professional learning. Bradley discusses what she calls the Five Part Plan (FPP) for meaningful professional learning.  

The FPP timeline includes two learning cycles which are found in the image below. Bradley suggests that each cycle consists of three parts; 60 minutes to plan, 60 minutes to teach, and 60 minutes to assess and reflect on the learning.  

The above image helps provide a timeline in regards to the FFP summary found below.  

Part 1: Reaching Consensus

What five things should be in every classroom every day?

This is a whole staff brainstorm session and would occur prior to the school year.  The staff would identify the five things that should occur in classrooms everyday.  Once identified, the teachers would research, plan, teach, and reflect during two of the learning cycles found in the image above.  

We would need to question how the five things align to our teacher evaluation plan. It makes sense to incorporate our evaluation processes into our professional learning.   

Part 2: Selecting the Learning Design

How do teachers learn to do those five things effectively?

Bradley provides nine learning design choices for teachers during their professional learning time. I would recommend that PLCs decide which learning design they will focus on during each of the two learning cycles.

  1. Collaborative Planning, Teaching, and Assessing
  2. Peer Teaching
  3. Vertical Team Study
  4. Intentional Practicing with Student Response
  5. Using Technology - Linked-in Lessons
  6. Studying Video and Application 
  7. Lesson Design 
  8. Shared Learning with Teachers, Principals, and Coaches 
  9. Creative and Innovative Teaching 
In my opinion there are too many choices and might overwhelm teachers.  We should reduce the number and focus on the most effective learning designs.  

Part 3: Implementing the Learning Design Cycle 

What is a Learning Design Cycle, and how is it implemented?

For example, a PLC could choose a learning design like studying video and application. They might study exit tickets as a formative assessment strategy.  They could visit the Teaching Channel and find several videos to study and implement.  

Part 4: Sharing Professional Knowledge with Whole School Staff

What is a knowledge showcase?

A knowledge showcase is a way to celebrate the learning acquired throughout the year.  We are planning on taking pictures, videos and narratives from all PLCs and sharing our work at our April 22nd early release day.  The knowledge showcase is a great way to share our learning and it also instills accountability in the process. 

Part 5: Creating a Professional Knowledge Base 

How does a school archive learning so it is not lost?

Bradley recommends finding a way to house all of the learning that occurs within the two learning cycles.  Teachers may see something at the Knowledge Showcase and want to learn about it next year. A digital library would be a great way to keep the learning available for reference.


The FPP is a nice model - it establishes an innovative structure for teachers and it is job embedded.  Time is a factor however - districts must be willing to give up time that has historically been used for sit-and-git professional development.  The FPP allows choice for teachers when selecting their professional learning. 

If you are unsatisfied with your district's professional development I would recommend the FPP as a framework to consider.  There is some solid stuff here, but it may be beneficial to pick and choose parts of the FPP.  

How are you providing more meaningful professional learning? 

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