Recently a fellow colleague, @LisaDegnan1 and #newbie blogger (Blog: Teaching and Learning With and Through Others) shared the excitement of self-directed autonomous professional development.
Lisa Degnan and Husband
With her permission I am “re-blogging” her post titled “Best Summer Professional Development”
“Have you ever written curriculum? Looking at the standards, breaking down the TEKS, and creating assessments that will address the standards has been one of the best professional development opportunities that I have had this summer. It sounds tedious. It sounds kind of boring. Yes, even to my ears it sounds CRAZY! But when you place great educators, creative thinkers, and motivated people in the same room… GREAT things begin to happen.
Sure, I have had some great PD opportunities this summer. They have been fantastic. I have notebooks of things that I would LOVE to try this school year. I brought all that knowledge with me to our day of writing assessments.
As our curriculum writing team began to formulate assessments, I was thinking of the many principles I was learning through my book study, Learning Targets: A Theory of Action. The following quote from the book was something that I heard buzzing in my mind as I worked alongside my fellow writers: “The most effective teaching and the most meaningful student learning happen when teachers design the right learning target for today’s lesson and use it along with their students to aim for and assess understanding.”
Knowing and understanding the learning standards for reading became key in developing assessments that would help identify student weaknesses, help drive teacher instruction, plan for future remediation and embrace real enrichment opportunities. And guess what?! It WAS fun! Working alongside knowledgeable educators that pushed my thinking and my level of understanding was FUN. It was also one of the best learning experiences that I have had this summer.
Professional development can present itself in a variety of ways. It is the phenomenal speaker at a convention. It is the inspiring Twitter chats that involve some of the brightest thinkers in the world. It is staff development that causes you pause and rethink. It is – for me – being in a room with a group of creative, inspiring, bright people that have come together to create assessments that are focused, purposeful, and challenging. It may not have looked fancy and we had to pay for our own lunches, but what we did in one day – was nothing short of amazing professional development.
We all have the ability to do this type of soul searching professional development with peers that inspire us. We can do it each week with thoughtful and intentional lesson planning. We can talk to other dedicated professionals and ask for their input, their insight, and their opinions. We can change how we have done things in the past to incorporate what we know is best for our students. It is part of being fully present. It is part of loving what we do. It is part of being highly effective educators.
My thought for today is… #JustDoIt ! You will be so glad that you did.“
Lisa perfectly captures the unbridled joy of learning. When you are you are driven from within the reward isn’t the professional development hours you receive, the possible payment you may be given for time spent writing curriculum or the accolades or praise from others, but rather the joy one has when they know they have met the target… the achieved synergy of ideas that affirm why we do what we do… the flip of a switch that makes the struggle getting there the energy that drives one to keep going.
I too am reading Learning Targets by Moss and Brookhart. What is exciting to me is I read this once before shortly before I learned about #geniushour in the spring of 2013. I really liked what the book was saying, but I wasn’t sure how to do it.
It did plant a seed.
The student being self-directed and assessing their own learning stuck with me.
It became a reality in the spring 2013 when I implemented #geniushour in my classroom. For some reason, I was able to play out much of the approaches suggested in Learning Targets first through a situation where each student had their own designed target for learning. I learned a lot about being specific as I coached my students and refined the process of feedback from me and their peers.
This spring, a full year since I read Learning Targets the first time, I wanted to learn more about effective feedback. I shared this desire with a mentor, Principal Cathy Sager, who recommended I read Feedback: the Hinge that Joins Teaching and Learning by Pollock. This further refined my thinking and practice on feedback. One of the most convincing arguments for student led feedback was in a story about a high school teacher, Ian Mulligan, who, at first thought the process of student led feedback would take too much time. What he realized was “when students sought and received peer feedback frequently in class, there were fewer interruptions or disruptions, and students stayed more focused so they actually covered more material more deeply than before.”(Pollock, p.52)
While reading Feedback I visited Coppell Middle School East to observe Results Only Learning Environment(ROLE). I saw the power of good scripted feedback. I was obsessed. I wanted to consume anything and everything that could create a learning environment where learning was purposeful, effective, focused and, most of all, student-driven.
I was having FUN, much like Lisa. FUN knowing that I was putting the pieces of a puzzle I began long ago. This puzzle started when I studied the Autonomous Learner Model by George Betts in the late 90’s. Then the puzzle took a more definable shape when I found a way to take the benefits of what happened in #geniushour and apply it to concepts and targets in content we are responsible to teach through the discovery of the ROLE approach.
It doesn’t stop there. I continue to learn via conversations, conferences, Twitter and blogs (just like Lisa). But the biggest “Aha!” has been as I re-read Learning Targets while reading Drive by Daniel Pink. Pairing the practical “how to” of Learning Targets with the philosophy of Drive has me sleep deprived IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SUMMER and I don’t care. Why? Because I can’t wait to share and work alongside teachers like Lisa as we transform instruction. My mind won’t stop thinking of the possibilities.
What is even more crazy is that I am reading another book called ROLE Reversal by Mark Barnes (If you want to join me I will be hosting a book chat July 29th- September 2nd: https://sites.google.com/a/nisdtx.org/role-reversal-book-study/) . It seems to take the philosophy of Drive and research of Learning Targets and melds the two into a dynamic that results in a complete overhaul where the best of how 21st century learners construct knowledge is met.
I continue to hold true to my “one word” FOCUS. This addresses my FOCUS on student driven learning/motivation.
If we design a learning experience where students are self-driven and self-motivated as discussed in Learning Targets, Drive, and ROLE Reversal then they should be having just as much FUN learning and growing as Lisa and I do. They will truly have developed a #growthmindset.
How are you having FUN in your personal professional development this summer? As Lisa suggested, #justdoit!