Sunday, November 30, 2014

Flipping Professional Learning

On Thursday at school we had a professional learning day.  It was a great day and a lot of very relevant learning happened, but since then I have thought about the flipped learning and how it can apply to PD.   Around the world there are millions of teachers who have to attend PD sessions which are basically low-level instruction/information delivered to large groups - many are not engaged or are even passive-resistant to these sessions.  How can we flip PD so that it is more individual and self-directed?

This year at ASB we introduced a tech coaching model.  There was a gap of 4 months between the start of the school year and the visit of cognitive coaching trainers Bill and Ochan Powell, where our 10 new tech coaches needed to start developing their coaching skills in order to have goal setting meetings with their teachers.  In the summer we decided to add a new coaching course onto our Haiku LMS that would cover some of the basics of coaching, and that our coaches could use as a starting point for their own learning.

Flipped PD is also addressed in the book Flipped Learning:  Gateway to Student Engagement. Kristin Daniels and Mike Dronon write about how flipped PD has transformed the role of tech integration specialists into "technology and innovation coaches" - people who encourage and support innovative and transformative teaching practices.  They started with the aim of providing teachers with effective PD so that they could use technology to change the way they taught.

ISTE has also released a white paper on effective PD that involves 3 factors:  a coaching model, online communities for collaborative idea sharing and a fully embedded use of technology.  Daniels and Dronon used this framework in order to flip PD.  They made videos and rather than organizing them by tool, they grouped them into 2 areas:  communication, collaboration, creative media and presentation.  As a result, they were able to create a different work environment where the technology and innovation coaches were able to motivate teachers to create, improve and innovate.

As Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams point in in their book, the question of what is the best use of face-to-face time is not simply directed at teachers.  Administrators need to consider it too as they consider the best use of time in staff meetings.  They write:
What if administrators flipped their faculty meetings?  Instead of faculty meetings being used to disseminate information, what if they were rich discussions about best practices?  During those meetings are teachers disengaged?  Are they checking their email or grading papers?  Could technology deliver content so that your face-to-face time is rich, rewarding and powerful.  A number of administrators who have implemented flipped learning tell us their faculty meetings are now deeper than ever before, and make much better use of the most valuable resource a school has:  the creative minds of amazing professional educators.
Photo Credit: @superamit via Compfight cc

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