Search
  • Aubrey Patterson

Professional Learning Menus: What Will You Be Having?

Amanda

Amanda’s grade 7’s are keeping her on her toes. She’s feeling pretty good about the start to her school year and would like to add a few tools to her teaching toolkit to keep up with her middle school changes.


After six years of teaching in grade 3, the change has been good for her, but Amanda wants the change to be good for the students, too. She has heard many times that she can access Mike, an instructional coach, and begins to search for his email, but stops short of connecting.


Amanda remembers meeting Mike briefly last month, and he certainly seemed nice. But what would she ask of him? "He's probably incredibly busy and it really isn't an emergency," she convinces herself as she starts packing up to leave.


Mike

Mike walks by the new teacher’s room. He had met Amanda and hoped she would contact him. In Hopeful School District, instructional coaching relationships are initiated by teachers, and coaches connect by invitation only.


This is Mike’s fifth hopeful journey by Amanda’s room; he has a big heart and would love if their paths accidentally crossed so he could try to coax that invitation out of Amanda. He doesn’t want to pressure her or sound like he thinks she isn’t capable, so he just glances toward her room and keeps on walking.


Learning from Restaurants

Have you ever felt uneasy about asking a tech coordinator, mentor or instructional coach for help? Maybe you think they are too busy or you just don’t know where to start the conversation?


We don’t feel awkward asking a waiter for something on the menu in a restaurant and certainly we are never puzzled about what a server can do for us. A menu strips away uncertainty and removes the social barrier of accessing professional support. A well-constructed professional learning system and the proper use of job descriptions offers examples of timely menus to access the services of leads, coaches and coordinators.

Menus can be published on paper and electronically, changed to reflect different times of year and ideally find a home on agendas of staff meetings or professional learning team meetings. It’s always a good idea to inject some joy into professional learning and many ideas could complement the menus and produce smiles as well: daily specials, desserts, side dishes and much more.


Empowerment and Informed Choice

For many years, we have worked hard to build the capacity of our teachers so they can differentiate to the diverse needs of students in the classroom. The impact of this differentiation has been clear as students feel that the learning journey is more tailored to them individually.


How could we build the capacity of coaches and principals to do the same with the adult learners in our buildings? The end result would be empowered teachers who recognize the personal investment that is being made in them.


Some of the best tools for this personalized learning mirror the tools we provide for students. When students are able to use rubrics with key indicators and compare their work to what "mastery" looks like, they are better able to reflect on where they are in their learning journey and the adjustments they need to make to arrive at their destination. In much the same way, menus provide indicators for teachers, invite them to reflect (with celebration of those indicators that are strengths and opportunities to identify 1-2 indicators as focal points for improvement) and then collaborate with a coach/principal to set growth goals specific to those focal points.



The menu items do the heavy lifting, setting the bar for mastery and the coaches are then viewed as a partner in helping the teacher construct and actualize clear goals.


Clarity Precedes Competence

Menus provide role clarity which further supports teachers making an informed choice.


It isn’t uncommon for a school or district to have both instructional coaches and assigned mentors. Coaching and mentoring are not always synonymous, and both are incredibly important for growth. Using them interchangeably can hinder the outcome or goal.


Both roles involve being thinking partners. They may help clarify expected results. A coach's role is to be active in the teacher's growth and the focus is narrowed to a particular skill. A mentor may help to explore big-picture thinking.


Simply stated, a coach builds problem-solving first, and then helps bring clarity. A mentor brings clarity first, and later focuses on the problem-solving.


Regardless of which menu you are ordering from, that of the coach or that of the mentor, it is essential that you know what you really have a taste for. Neither can successfully be delivered without a level of trust, vulnerability, and a pinch of empowerment.


À La carte menus of professional learning supports are a simple way of offering clarity.


Hopeful School District 2.0

Amanda

Amanda’s grade 7’s are keeping her on her toes. She’s feeling pretty good about the start to her school year and would like to add a few tools to her teaching toolkit to keep up with her middle school changes.


After six years of teaching in grade 3, the change has been good for her, but Amanda wants the change to be good for the students, too. She recalls a Menu of Instructional Services on the district website, quickly opens it and locates four great options offered by Mike.


Mike

Mike walks by the new teacher’s room. He had met Amanda and hoped she would contact him. In Hopeful School District, instructional coaching relationships are initiated by teachers.


His phone vibrates.


How cool is this?


It’s Amanda.



Contributors:

Jennifer Farmer: https://farmland1973.wordpress.com/

Matt Foster https://mafost.com/

Erika Garcia https://www.nohea.info/blog

Lori Harvie https://www.nohea.info/blog

Marci Houseman https://leadlikelincoln.blogspot.com/

Cris Saldaña https://onestepedu.wordpress.com

Tom Spall https://brenhamtechdaily.blogspot.com/

Lane Walker https://lanewalker2013.wordpress.com/

130 views

Canada ~ Lloydminster ~ Alberta

© 2018 by Nohea. Created with Wix.com